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Catawba County received 67.3 million opioid pills in 7 years. That's the equivalent of 62 pills per person per year.

Washington Post report reveals top pharmacy in state for opioid volume is in Catawba County

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An explosive investigative series from The Washington Post revealed 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills were distributed across the U.S. from 2006 to 2012.

A breakdown of this data shows North Carolina received more than 2.5 billion of those pills. At 9.2 million, Omnicare Pharmacy of North Hickory received the highest number of pills in the entire state during that time period.

For more information on how this data was calculated and obtained, scroll to the bottom.

The Post published this data after a year-long legal battle to gain access to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System. They, along with several other media outlets, won.

Over the weekend, The Post graciously invited journalists everywhere to take this data and use it in their own communities. This article is one of several in the works at the Hickory Daily Record to take a more in-depth look at the local opioid crisis over the last decade.

The data breaks down the amount of pills each county in North Carolina received while listing the top five distributors, manufacturers and pharmacies.

Catawba County received 67,375,275 oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills from 2006 through 2012. According to The Post, that breaks down to 62 pills per person per year.

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Pharmacies in Hickory received the majority of these pills from distributor Cardinal Health and manufacturer SpecGx LLC at roughly 13.7 million and 28.6 million pills, respectively.

While it may sound alarming that a pharmacy in Hickory received the highest amount of pills in the entire state, research into what type of pharmacy Omnicare Pharmacy of North Hickory is sheds some light on why the number is so high.

According to the company’s website, Omnicare is a CVS Health Company that serves long-term care facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living communities. It is unclear how many long-term care facilities the company works with and if any of them are local.

It should also be noted that the data doesn’t indicate if the pills ended up strictly in the hands of Catawba County citizens, according to The Post. The data only shows where the pills came from and who was selling them.

Medical Center Pharmacy Inc. in Hickory received the second-most pills in Catawba County at roughly 3.7 million. Walgreens Co. Hickory, North Carolina CVS Pharmacy LLC Hickory and North Carolina CVS Pharmacy LLC Conover followed.

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The Post has also reported that roughly 2,000 plaintiffs in the Northern District of Ohio, including cities and counties, have filed federal lawsuits against opioid distributors and manufacturers, which is set to become the largest civil trial in U.S. history come October.

The City of Hickory and Catawba County both filed lawsuits in 2018 that have been consolidated with the other cases in the Northern District of Ohio.

The top opioid distributor in Catawba County from 2006 through 2012 was Cardinal Health. It is one of dozens of opioid related companies the City of Hickory and Catawba County have filed lawsuits against. Cardinal Health was also the top distributor for the state.

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For more information, visit The Washington Post and check back with the HDR in the coming weeks as we publish more articles on the local opioid crisis.

Reporter Kevin Griffin contributed to this article.

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Jordan Hensley is the court reporter at the Hickory Daily Record. ​

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