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New Federal Data Shows Opioid Shipments Increased as Crisis Grew

Recently released federal data show that drug manufacturers and distributors increased shipments of opioid painkillers the addiction crisis accelerated.

The information covering the period from 2006 to 2012 had been held under a protective order.

Brinson Askew Berry partner Andy Davis said attorneys and their clients in a multi-district litigation case could access the details about pharmacy deliveries across the country, but the data could not be made public.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster ruled that there “is clearly no basis” for shielding the information. Polster is overseeing the multi-district lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors filed by local governments including Rome, Floyd County and several other northwest Georgia governments.

Davis and attorney Bob Finnell are heading a lawsuit filed by Rome, Floyd County and nearby cities and counties contending that manufacturers and distributors of the painkillers knew they were highly addictive and were being prescribed at unsafe rates.

The local case is consolidated with about 2,000 others in Polster’s court.

In news reports, the new data shows that companies distributed 8.4 billion hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to commercial pharmacies in 2006 and 12.6 billion in 2012. That’s an increase of over 50 percent.

Over that seven-year period, 76 billion pills were distributed in all, according to an analysis by The Washington Post, which had sued along with another outlet, HD Media, to obtain the data.

During the same timeframe, prescription opioids contributed to more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rome News-Tribune article