Washington Post prescription pain pill database: 1.7 billion pain pills in Alabama from 2006-2012

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Washington Post, partnered with HD Media -- which publishes the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia -- successfully sued the Drug Enforcement Administration for information in its pain pills drug database.

This week, the Washington Post has released a huge database -- showing state and county-level data, drug makers, distributors and pharmacies -- and prescription pain pill shipments to pharmacies and doctors from 2006 to 2012.

The numbers are pretty staggering, based on the Post analysis.

There were 1.7 billion pain pills, mostly hydrocodone and oxycodone supplied to Alabama from 2006 to 2012. The numbers vary by county, but for Madison County – it added up to 54 pain pills per year for every resident. From 2006 to 2012.

From Lawrence County --  with the lowest total of 11.5 million -- to Madison County at 123 million -- eight North Alabama counties had more than 200 million pain pills supplied and, presumably, distributed.

Two Huntsville area pharmacies also stood out, according to the Post analysis. Propst Discount drugs ranked second in Alabama during that period, receiving 9.1 million pain pills, Star Discount Pharmacy ranked fourth, receiving 8.3 million pain pills.

It was a dark period nationally, as opioid prescription deaths grew from 7,000 in 2006 to 11,000 in 2012. Last year, it was more than 14,000.

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