Newly public data maps opioid crisis across U.S.

Newly public data maps opioid crisis across U.S.

Publication date: Jul 21, 2019

The release of a massive trove of data from lawsuits over the nation’s opioid crisis provides the most detailed accounting to date of the role played by the major pharmaceutical companies and distributors.

But the data gives a stunning portrait of how the nation’s deadly public health crisis unfolded year by year, with manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies turning a firehose of prescription painkillers disproportionately on rural, working-class communities at the same time the death toll from prescription and illegal opioids was climbing.

Following are questions and answers about what the federal data includes and what it could mean for the lawsuits, in which some 2,000 local, state and tribal governments are seeking to hold the drug industry responsible for the crisis.

Federal data on deaths related to opioid overdoses shows the places that received the most prescription opioids per capita were also the places with the highest overdose death rates.

It also shows that the total number of prescription opioids sent to pharmacies increased even as the number of opioid-related deaths was rising, from less than 18,000 a year to more than 23,000.

In recent years, opioids have accounted for roughly two-thirds of all overdose deaths each year in the U. S.

In 2017, the last year for which official numbers are available, some 47,600 deaths were attributed to opioids.

Since 2012, illicit opioids such as heroin and fentanyl, a synthetic drug that is often mixed with heroin, have driven the death totals.

Preliminary data from the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this week shows the number of opioid deaths in 2018 is likely to show a slight decline, the first year in nearly three decades in which the overall overdose total dropped.

The leading opioid producers over that span were three companies that make generic drugs: SpecGX, Par Pharmaceutical and Activis Pharma.

The next biggest drugmaker was OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, which is often cast as the villain of the opioid crisis but produced just 3% of the opioid pills over the span.

Plaintiffs argue that Purdue and later other brand-name drugmakers were the ones who persuaded doctors to prescribe opioids – a class of drugs known for centuries to both relieve pain and be highly addictive – in higher doses and for more conditions.

Concepts Keywords
Accounting Heroin
Appalachian Region Oxycodone
Automobile Accidents Purdue Pharma
Cardinal Drug culture
Cleveland Morphinans
County Sackler family
DEA Euphoriants
Fentanyl Psychoactive drugs
Generic Drugs RTT
Heroin Opioids
Hydrocodone Media outlets
Kentucky Show law enforcement
Opioid Generic drugs
Opioids Pharmaceutical companies distributors
Overdose Opioid producers
Overdose Deaths
Oxycodone
OxyContin
Pain
Painkillers
Par Pharmaceutical
Pharmaceutical Companies
Pharmacies
Pharmacy
Purdue
Purdue Pharma
Settlement Negotiations
Trove
Walgreens
Washington Post
West Virginia
Working Class

Semantics

Type Source Name
pathway BSID Release
disease MESH communities
disease MESH death
gene UNIPROT TLR4
gene UNIPROT SLC35G1
gene UNIPROT NBL1
gene UNIPROT PARN
gene UNIPROT ACOT7
gene UNIPROT ACTG2
gene UNIPROT ACTBL2
gene UNIPROT SERPINA3
gene UNIPROT ACTG1
gene UNIPROT POTEM
gene UNIPROT FHL5
drug DRUGBANK Oxycodone
drug DRUGBANK Hydrocodone
drug DRUGBANK Diamorphine
drug DRUGBANK Fentanyl
gene UNIPROT NR1I2
gene UNIPROT JTB
gene UNIPROT ERC2
gene UNIPROT CD3EAP
gene UNIPROT CAST
gene UNIPROT CARD8
gene UNIPROT ARID1A
gene UNIPROT YES1

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