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Pill blitz: The numbers are staggering: 76 billion pain pills distributed between 2006 and 2012 by the largest drugs companies in the U.S. Enough to supply every child and adult in the country with 36 pills each year. In the hardest hit rural communities, the pill-per-capita count reached into the hundreds. Using data the newspaper obtained by court order after the government and the drug industry fought to keep it secret, The Washington Post has published an incredible report on the massive scale of opioid distribution in the U.S. that grew as overdose deaths skyrocketed. The newspaper has made the county-by-county database public, so local journalists and academics could begin to draw connections between the flood of pills and the toll they took on their communities. One pharmacy in a small town in Virginia alone received 7.7 million pills in that period. “The epidemic was not something out of sight, behind closed doors, under a bridge,” a team of Post reporters write. “In full view, it intensified and the companies, health care professionals, law enforcement officials and government regulators were unable or unwilling to stop it.”

Also: Corporate blame can be spread farther than to the top drug makers and distributors often making headlines these days. The New York Times reports on a lawsuit that is highlighting the role of massive chains that operate pharmacies, like Walmart and Rite Aid, along with lesser known distributors, like Mallinckrodt, where account managers’ bonuses were tied to sales. –– For the second time in recent months, federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against a drug distributor. First came charges against Rochester Drug Cooperative in April. Now, former executives of Miami-Luken have been charged with conspiring with doctors and pharmacists across Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. –– Leaders of the largest Native American reservation, Navajo Nation, are raising concerns about an audit that found government hospitals put patients at risk for addiction by failing to follow proper protocol when prescribing opioids, the Associated Press reports.

Click here to read other stories in this week’s FairWarning Warning Wire, which includes updates on the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, a lawsuit over lead in paint, drowning statistics and the plastic crisis.

About FairWarning

FairWarning ( is a nonprofit news organization based in Pasadena, Calif., that focuses on public health, safety and environmental issues.