Seven years, 23 million pills: Data shows effect of opioid crisis in Wenatchee Valley

Source: The Wenatchee World

WENATCHEE — As the opioid crisis ramped up, drug distributors supplied 23 million prescription pain pills to retailers in the Wenatchee Valley over a seven-year period, according to Drug Enforcement Administration data published Thursday by The Washington Post.

In total, Chelan County received 21,245,090 pills from 2006 to 2012 and Douglas County received 7,751,782, according to the data.

That’s 42.8 pills per person, per year in Chelan County and 30 per person, per year in Douglas County, according to the data.

King County, for example, received more than 450 million pills in that time frame — an average of 34.5 per person, according to the data. Snohomish County had an average of 45.6 per person.

In some areas of the country, the average was much higher. Mingo County, West Virginia, had an average of 203.5 pills per person, according to the data.

In NCW, the majority of the pills were distributed to large chain pharmacies.

Wenatchee’s Walgreens received 3.5 million pills from national distributors and the Wenatchee Clinic Pharmacy received just over 3 million pills, according to the data.

Safeway, which has four locations in Chelan and Douglas counties, received a combined 6 million pills in those seven years, according to the data.

Its highest-volume location was in East Wenatchee, where 2.1 million pills were delivered, according to the data. That pharmacy received more pills than any other in the county. East Wenatchee’s Fred Meyer, Costco and Bi-Mart followed, in that order.

More than 3.2 million pills were distributed to seven locations in the city of Chelan, according to the data. Lake Chelan Pharmacy Inc. topped the list with 1.7 million pills.

The DEA database, called the Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System, tracks the path of every pain pill sold in the U.S., the Post reported. After a year-long legal battle, a court order gave the newspaper access to the data on Monday.

Then on Thursday, The Post published county-level data that tracks two types of opioids, oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, from 2006 to 2012. Nearly 100,000 people died in the U.S. from the result of the opioid epidemic in that time frame, according to The Post.

In Chelan County, the opioid-related death rate dropped from 8.38 per 100,000 people in 2002 to 6.59 in 2017, according to the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.

But in Douglas County, the death rate went up from 1.99 deaths per 100,000 to 9.01 in that timeframe, according to the institute.

The majority of NCW’s pills came from McKesson Corporation, a national pharmaceutical distributor. It distributed 17 million pills to the two counties over seven years, according to the data.

McKesson was also the top distributor in the state, delivering 650 million pills to pharmacies in Washington over the seven years.

Including all distributors, there were 1.8 billion prescription pain pills supplied to Washington state from 2006 to 2012, according to the data.