A new database maintained by the DEA tracks the course of every opioid pill sold in the country.
The Washington Post published the analysis, which has not previously been made public. It shows 76 billion pills flooded our communities across the country between 2006 and 2012.
Horry County did not escape the staggering statistics.
“I was given medicine because I was in a lot of pain, and it just continued to progress from there. It was awful. It took my whole life away,” said Nicole Criss, the executive director of FAVOR.
Nicole Criss’ story is similar to that of many Americans. She had a herniated disc which resulted in two surgeries, chronic pain, and addiction to OxyCotin and oxycodone.
“I had it all rationalized in my head that my kids would be better off without me than living like that. It was a very painful, awful place to be and that literally was just from taking pills,” said Criss.
The Washington Post’s analysis shows the number of pain pills distributed each year from 2006 to 2012 and breaks the data down by county.
In Horry County, there were more than 102 million prescription pain pills, enough for 56 pills per person, per year.
Cardinal Health was the top distributor in the county giving out 22,296,700 pills. SpecGX manufactured 45,447,400 pills in Horry County. They were also the leading drug maker in the country.
These are the pharmacies in Horry County that received the most pain pills:
– 5,107,230 pills
Walmart Pharmacy 10 Conway – 4,563,120 pills
Walgreens Murrell’s Inlet – 3,642,610 pills
Walmart Pharmacy 10 Surfside – 3,427,580 pills
Powers Pharmacy Loris – 3,051,440 pills
“Conway and Murrells Inlet, those areas were concentrated with pain clinics and that Walgreens is the busiest pharmacy in the state of South Carolina,” said Jenna Dukes, owner of Cherry Grove Drug.
Horry County filed a lawsuit in May against major drug manufacturers and companies over the growing opioid crisis. Some of the same names listed in the lawsuit are the top names listed in this data.
One local lawmaker said this information being released is beneficial. “When we started this process we just didn’t know. We knew there was a huge problem, but data just allows you realtime to adjust policy,” said Rep. Russell Fry.
Since 2012, there has been an increase in protocols. “All controlled substances have to be reported to this database in 24 hours. The DEA particularly has limitations on manufacturers now and how many doses of the product they can manufacturer per year or per month,” said Dukes.
For Criss, she got clean in 2014 and is the executive director of FAVOR, a local recovery group and she hopes this data and her story will help someone else. “My job in this life today is to provide hope and speak out and show people that recovery happens,” said Criss.
Florence and Darlington County had more pills doled out than Horry County, and Charleston County had the most statewide.