Washington Post investigation reveals significant opioid use on the Suncoast

Opioid Overhaul

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - An investigation by the Washington Post reveals for the first time the path of every single pain pill sold in the country.

Journalists tapped into the database, maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration, that tracks all opioid sales from manufacturer to pharmacies. The numbers they found are startling.

For Sarasota County, the data shows more than 129 million prescription pain pills were supplied from 2006 to 2012. This breaks down to 49 pills per person, per year.

According to the Washington Post, the pharmacy that received the highest number of Oxycodone and Hydrocodone is Sarasota Pharmacy Services, also known as Bee Ridge Pharmacy. The 6 million pills that were distributed to this family-owned business beat out two Walgreens in the area.

They declined to do an interview with ABC7 on camera.

Manatee County follows closely behind Sarasota in numbers with 117 million prescription pain pills. Both are in the top 15 for the highest supplies of prescription pain pills in 2006 to 2012 for all of Florida.

“Because there was no checking of verification that you had a prescription from other physicians, so I could go from Doctor A to Doctor B to Doctor C, and get a prescription at that time," said PJ Brooks, Vice President of Outpatient and Youth Services for First Step of Sarasota. "So that means I got 120 here, 120 here, 120 here, all I needed was cash.”

Brooks works closely with people who are addicted to opioids and other drugs. He said it became normal for everyone from teens to the elderly to sell those extra pills.

He also adds that Sarasota’s numbers were so high during that time period because of the city’s close proximity to I-75, an interstate he said was a key component in the corridor used to move drugs around Florida.

A Washington Post map also shows starting in 2006, opioid use took over the country, increasing in volume from 8.4 billion in 2006 to 12.6 billion in 2012.

To see the full report and find the county you live in, click here for The Washington Post’s article.

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