Real figures detailing how many opioid pills came through Bartow and surrounding northwest Georgia counties are available to the public thanks to an Ohio class action lawsuit.

During a seven-year period from 2006 to 2012, Bartow County received more than 33 million pills, enough for 47 pills per person each year.

That math is based on census figures from the 2010 count that put the county’s population at 100,157.

According to information from the case, Bartow County’s shipments totaled 33,039,206 pills. The top three receiving pharmacies were Eckerd in Cartersville, 3.6 million; Holt’s Pharmacy, 3.5 million; and Adairsville Drug, 2.6 million.

The volume of shipments is one reason why area officials Rome City and Floyd County commissioners decided in 2018 to join other Northwest Georgia jurisdictions in a lawsuit contending the companies used deceptive practices to fuel an epidemic of addiction.

More than 2,000 lawsuits from around the nation have been consolidated under the Ohio case. Bartow County has joined in the case.

Shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone to nearby counties paint a similarly bleak picture.

Other northwest Georgia counties that received big orders during that period included Polk County with 24.4 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills; Gordon County with 16 million; Catoosa County with 25.6 million; Walker County wwith 18.5 million; and Chattooga County logged 11.5 million.

Local officials are seeking compensation for the cost to their communities along with funds to abate the damage.

That’s not just the cost of medical care for people who’ve experienced opioid-related addictions, diseases, overdoses and deaths, according to the suit being spearheaded by Rome attorneys Andy Davis and Bob Finnell.

It also includes treatment, counseling and rehabilitation services for the addicts; foster and other care for children whose parents are disabled or incapacitated by addiction; and the additional strain on law enforcement, public safety and the courts.

Davis said records of the pill shipments are in a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency database called ARCOS, which monitors the flow of controlled substances from the manufacturer to the point of sale. The data was under a court-ordered seal until last month, at the request of the government and drug industry..

The Washington Post and HD Media won a year-long legal battle for access to the data and made it public, along with a series of reports putting the volume of shipments in context.

They’re still fighting for DEA data for 2013 and 2014, which remain under seal in the multi-district litigation case being heard by U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster of the Northern District of Ohio.

The Post also analyzed the nearly 380 million transactions to create a more manageable database and made it available to researchers and other journalists. It doesn’t include data on 10 other opioids that were shipped at lower levels than oxycodone and hydrocodone.

In Georgia, more than 2.2 billion pills were shipped to retail consumers from 2006 to 2012.

Here’s a more detailed look at what happened in the northwest region:

♦ Polk County received 24,436,350 pills, enough for 84 pills per person each year.

The top three pharmacies were Bradford Drug Store, at 4.5 million pills; CVS in Cedartown, 3.7 million; and Smith-Lockwood Drug Store, 2.8 million during that seven-year time frame.

♦ Floyd County’s 50.5 million pills were enough for each man, woman and child to have 75 pills a year. The top three pharmacies receiving the shipments were Walgreen, at more than 4 million; Winslette Pharmacy, 3.9 million; and McGowan-Jones Pharmacy in Shannon, 3.7 million.

♦ Chattooga County consumers shared 11,569,850 pills, enough for each person to have 63 a year. The top three pharmacies were CVS in Summerville, 3.8 million; Trion Drugs, 3.2 million; and WalMart, 2.2 million.

♦ Catoosa County got 25,625,360 pills, equal to a yearly supply of 58 pills per person. The top three pharmacies were Walgreen in Fort Oglethorpe, 6.1 million; WalMart in Fort Oglethorpe, 2.7 million; and CVS in Ringgold, 2.6 million.

♦ Gordon County received enough for 42 pills per person per year: 16,076,190 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills. The top three pharmacies were Harbin’s Prescription Shop, 4 million; CVS in Calhoun, 2.3 million; and Kroger, 1.7 million.

♦ Walker County received 18,574,876 pills, a supply of 39 pills per person per year. The top three pharmacies were Rocky Top Pharmacy in Rossville, 4.9 million; Ledfords Rx Express, 3.1 million; and CVS in LaFayette, 2.6 million.


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