Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Death in Mud Lick

    Death in Mud Lick by Eric Eyre

      It’s the numbers that get you. Right there in the first sentence, “In two years, out-of-state drug companies shipped nearly 9 million opioid pain pills to Kermit, West Virginia, a town with 382 people.” Of course I had to read that again and then read it to my husband and then read it again.
     There was more: Americans consume more than 80% of the world’s supply of oxycodone and 99% of its hycrocodone.
      Beginning by focusing on one particular Sav-Rite pharmacy in Kermit, W. Va., the author examines the supply and demand for opioids that are addicting and killing people. At one point the line of people from neighboring states waiting to have their bogus prescriptions filled meant the owner, Jim Wooley, provided popcorn, hot dogs, and satellite trailers in the parking lot. If you had a legitimate prescription for something “else” it was given to you in a different colored bag so when you left the pharmacy, you would be left alone. The pills became currency. You could buy your groceries with them.
      Because of one particular death the author began digging into the supply chain. It wasn’t just the pharmacists getting rich, someone had to supply them with the pills and in a five year time, from 2007-2012 “one distributor alone distributed 119 million doses of highly addictive drugs to West Virginia pharmacies, or about 80 pills for every man, woman and child in the state.“ And this was just one of five major distributors. Millions and millions of pills were distributed to tiny little Appalachian towns
infecting its citizens with destruction.
      The author was a bull dog with the information he was uncovering. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, he looked and talked and found loop holes to gather his information about the poisoning of America while beating his head against the wall that corporate lawyers and politicians surrounded themselves with. He told the world and the world heard him.
      Where, you may ask, were the red flags, where was the DEA? Hiding. No one would admit to knowing or noticing anything. But how long can you hide behind the fact that “the drug distributors had saturated American with 76 BILLION oxycodone and hydrocodone pills” in five years. You may think the NRA has a strong lobby, well, folks, meet the drug company lobby. In the end, numbers don’t lie and when you can prove your numbers the facts couldn’t hide behind a lawyer or politician any longer.
Please don’t blame the people who became addicted and ultimately were ruled by their addiction. Debbie Preese, the woman who first started asking the questions and whose three brothers died of an overdose told the author there is something IN those pills. Something so addicting. “These people are making millions of dollars, and they don’t care who dies.”
      Eric Eyre won a pulitzer prize for his work. This book is the story of his investigation. His work isn’t over, you only have to look at your own community, scratch the surface, but now we know where to look. This is just about the scariest book I’ve ever read but also one of the most important.