Drilling into the DEA’s pain pill database

For the first time, a database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks the path of every single pain pill sold in the United States — by manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city — has been made public.

The Washington Post sifted through nearly 500 million transactions from 2006 through 2014 that are detailed in the DEA’s database and analyzed shipments of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, which account for three-quarters of the total opioid pill shipments to pharmacies. The Post is making this data available at the county and state levels in order to help the public understand the impact of years of prescription pill shipments on their communities.

These records provide an unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic, which resulted in nearly 130,000 deaths during the nine-year time frame ending in 2014.

A county-level analysis of the cumulative data shows where the most oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were distributed across the country over that time: more than 100 billion in all.

Number of pills distributed per person, per year

Average yearly total, by county, 2006 through 2014

Use two fingers to pan around the map.
Pinch to zoom.

Tap a district to see details

The Post gained access to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System, known as ARCOS, as the result of a court order. The Post and HD Media, which publishes the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia, waged a year-long legal battle for access to the database, which the government and the drug industry had sought to keep secret.

The version of the database published by The Post allows readers to learn how much hydrocodone and oxycodone went to individual states and counties, and which companies and distributors were responsible.

Find the data for where you live

Visit this page on a desktop computer to download the data.

Visit this page on a desktop computer to download the data.

Visit this page on a desktop computer to download the data.

The Post believes this is a critically important set of data, which is why we are making it public and accessible to readers and other journalists. We think there are hundreds of stories within this data set and need your help to understand what it means to you and your community. Want to use this data or our findings in your own work? Click here to find out how.

There were no prescription pain pill transactions for this county in the data.

The Post analysis shows that the volumes of the pills handled by the companies climbed as the epidemic surged, increasing 52 percent from 8.4 billion in 2006 to 12.8 billion in 2011. Pill distribution started to decline slightly in 2012, and the additional data shows that, by 2014, the number of pills distributed was 11.8 billion. Yearly county-level maps show how the influx of pills spread.

Just six companies distributed 76 percent of the pills — oxycodone and hydrocodone — during this period: McKesson Corp., Walgreens, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, CVS and Walmart, according to an analysis of the database by The Washington Post.

Top pill distributors, 2006 through 2014

Click on a column to sort the table.

Distributor Percent of market

McKesson Corp.

19 billion pills

18.9%

Cardinal Health

15 billion pills

14.7%

Walgreens

15 billion pills

14.5%

AmerisourceBergen

13 billion pills

13.2%

CVS

7.7 billion pills

7.6%

Walmart

7.1 billion pills

7.1%

Smith Drug Co.

1.7 billion pills

1.7%

Rite Aid

1.6 billion pills

1.6%

Kroger

1.6 billion pills

1.6%

H. D. Smith

1.4 billion pills

1.4%

Anda, Inc

1.3 billion pills

1.3%

Morris & Dickson Co

1.2 billion pills

1.2%

Kaiser Permanente

1.1 billion pills

1.1%

Thrifty Payless Inc

1.1 billion pills

1.1%

Omnicare Distribution Center LLC

940 million pills

0.9%

Eckerd Corporation

900 million pills

0.9%

N C Mutual Wholesale Drug Co

780 million pills

0.8%

Smith's Food & Drug Ctr's Inc

660 million pills

0.7%

Kinray Inc

630 million pills

0.6%

The Harvard Drug Group

440 million pills

0.4%

Advantage Logistics

440 million pills

0.4%

Value Drug Co

430 million pills

0.4%

Publix Super Markets, Inc.

370 million pills

0.4%

Associated Pharmacies Inc

370 million pills

0.4%

HEB Grocery Company, LP

340 million pills

0.3%

Valley Wholesale Drug Co

280 million pills

0.3%

River City Pharma

280 million pills

0.3%

SAJ Distributors

270 million pills

0.3%

Longs Drug Store

270 million pills

0.3%

Harco

260 million pills

0.3%

Louisiana Wholesale Drug Co

250 million pills

0.3%

Albertsons LLC

230 million pills

0.2%

Frank W Kerr Inc

210 million pills

0.2%

Top Rx, Inc.

200 million pills

0.2%

Qualitest Pharmaceuticals

180 million pills

0.2%

American Sales Company

170 million pills

0.2%

KeySource Medical

160 million pills

0.2%

Rochester Drug Co-Operative Inc

160 million pills

0.2%

Miami-Luken

160 million pills

0.2%

Hy-Vee

160 million pills

0.2%

Quest Pharmaceuticals Inc

150 million pills

0.1%

American Drug Stores

150 million pills

0.1%

Meijer Distribution Inc #90

150 million pills

0.1%

Pharmacy Buying Association

150 million pills

0.1%

HBC Service Company

150 million pills

0.1%

Dakota Drug

120 million pills

0.1%

Par Pharmaceutical, Inc.

120 million pills

0.1%

Auburn Pharmaceutical

110 million pills

0.1%

Mc Queary Brothers

100 million pills

0.1%

Winn Dixie Logistics

100 million pills

0.1%

KPH Healthcare Services, Inc.

91 million pills

0.1%

Aphena Pharma Solutions

89 million pills

0.1%

Dik Drug Co

83 million pills

0.1%

Wakefern Food Corporation

72 million pills

0.1%

Discount Drug Mart

69 million pills

0.1%

Prescription Supply Inc

67 million pills

0.1%

Sunrise Wholesale, Inc

66 million pills

0.1%

P J C Distributor Co Inc

65 million pills

0.1%

Bryant Ranch Prepack

61 million pills

0.1%

Schnucks Pharmacy Distribution Ctr

59 million pills

0.1%

Burlington Drug Company

58 million pills

0.1%

Southwood Pharmaceuticals Inc

57 million pills

0.1%

Dispensing Solutions

57 million pills

0.1%

Bloodworth Wholesale Drugs

56 million pills

0.1%

Thrifty White Warehouse

55 million pills

0.1%

Drogueria Betances

48 million pills

0.1%

Murfreesboro Pharmaceutical

47 million pills

0.1%

NuCare Pharmaceuticals

46 million pills

0.1%

Mallinckrodt LLC

43 million pills

0.0%

Henry Schein Inc

40 million pills

0.0%

DRx Pharmaceutical Consultants, Inc.

40 million pills

0.0%

Actavis Pharma

39 million pills

0.0%

Bellco Drug Corp

39 million pills

0.0%

Expert-Med

35 million pills

0.0%

Cedardale Distributors LLC, DBA Gen-Source RX

34 million pills

0.0%

PD-Rx Pharmaceuticals Inc

33 million pills

0.0%

Richie Pharmacal

32 million pills

0.0%

Heartland Repack Services

32 million pills

0.0%

GCP Pharma LLC

29 million pills

0.0%

Lake Erie Medical

28 million pills

0.0%

D & K Healthcare Resources

26 million pills

0.0%

White Drug 61

26 million pills

0.0%

Altura Pharmaceuticals, Inc

26 million pills

0.0%

Stat Rx USA LLC

24 million pills

0.0%

Amneal Pharmaceuticals

22 million pills

0.0%

Aidarex Pharmaceuticals LLC

22 million pills

0.0%

Dixon-Shane LLC

22 million pills

0.0%

Paragon Enterprises Inc

22 million pills

0.0%

Dohmen Distribution Partners

22 million pills

0.0%

Allscripts, LLC

20 million pills

0.0%

QK Healthcare, Inc.

20 million pills

0.0%

Medsource Pharmaceuticals

18 million pills

0.0%

King Drug Company of Florence

18 million pills

0.0%

Genetco Inc

17 million pills

0.0%

H J Harkins Company Inc

17 million pills

0.0%

JM Blanco Inc

16 million pills

0.0%

Moore Medical LLC

14 million pills

0.0%

DIT Healthcare Distributio

14 million pills

0.0%

Price Chopper Operating Co Inc

14 million pills

0.0%

Duane Reade

13 million pills

0.0%

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Three companies manufactured about 85 percent of the opioids: SpecGx, a subsidiary of Mallinckrodt; Actavis Pharma; and Par Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Endo Pharmaceuticals.

Top pill manufacturers, 2006 through 2014

Click on a column to sort the table.

Labeler Percent of market

SpecGx

36 billion pills

35.7%

Actavis Pharma

32 billion pills

32.0%

Par Pharmaceutical

18 billion pills

17.6%

Amneal Pharmaceuticals

4.0 billion pills

4.0%

Purdue Pharma

3.2 billion pills

3.2%

KVK Tech

1.7 billion pills

1.7%

Teva Pharmaceuticals USA

720 million pills

0.7%

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc.

710 million pills

0.7%

Kaiser Foundation Hospitals

480 million pills

0.5%

West-Ward Pharmaceuticals

470 million pills

0.5%

Alvogen, Inc.

370 million pills

0.4%

AbbVie Inc.

370 million pills

0.4%

Endo Pharmaceuticals

330 million pills

0.3%

Ethex Corporation

290 million pills

0.3%

Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

270 million pills

0.3%

Zydus Pharmaceuticals (USA) Inc.

190 million pills

0.2%

UCB, Inc.

190 million pills

0.2%

McKesson Corp.

160 million pills

0.2%

Aurolife Pharma LLC

150 million pills

0.1%

Golden State Medical Supply, Inc.

130 million pills

0.1%

Cardinal Health

120 million pills

0.1%

Dispensing Solutions Inc.

100 million pills

0.1%

Aphena Pharma Solutions - Tennessee, LLC

92 million pills

0.1%

Bryant Ranch Prepack

62 million pills

0.1%

Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

56 million pills

0.1%

Comparing county-level maps of opioid overdose deaths and pill shipments reveal a virtual opioid belt of more than 90 counties stretching southwest from Webster County, W.Va., through southern Virginia and ending in Monroe County, Ky. This swath includes 18 of the top 20 counties ranked by per-capita prescription opioid deaths nationwide and 12 of the top 20 counties for opioid pills distributed per capita.

[Have opioids affected your community? Share your story.]

Number of pills per person per year

Average county yearly total 2006 through 2014

5

75

150+

Opioid Deaths

Cumulative opioid death rate 2006 through 2014

0

15

30+

per 100,000

people

Source: Data compiled by the DEA and CDC and

analyzed by The Post

Number of pills per person per year

Average county yearly total 2006 through 2014

5

75

150+

Opioid Deaths

Cumulative opioid death rate 2006 through 2014

0

15

30+

per 100,000

people

Source: Data compiled by the DEA and CDC and

analyzed by The Post

Number of pills per person per year

Opioid Deaths

Average county yearly total 2006 through 2014

Cumulative opioid death rate 2006 through 2014

5

75

150+

0

15

30+

per 100,000

people

Source: Data compiled by the DEA and CDC and analyzed by The Post

Number of pills per person per year

Opioid Deaths

Average county yearly total 2006 through 2014

Cumulative opioid death rate 2006 through 2014

5

75

150+

0

15

30+

per 100,000

people

Source: Data compiled by the DEA and CDC and analyzed by The Post

Number of pills per person per year

Opioid Deaths

Average county yearly total 2006 through 2014

Cumulative opioid death rate 2006 through 2014

5

75

150+

0

15

30+

per 100,000

people

Source: Data compiled by the DEA and CDC and analyzed by The Post

About this story

The Washington Post analyzed data from the Drug Enforcement Administration's Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System, known as ARCOS, from 2006 to 2014.

Data analyzed includes only shipments from sales of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills to retail pharmacies, chain pharmacies and practitioners. The entire database tracks a dozen different opioids, including oxycodone and hydrocodone, which make up three-quarters of the total pill shipments to pharmacies.

Originally published July 16, 2019.

Data analysis by Steven Rich, Aaron Williams and Andrew Ba Tran. Graphics, design and development by Armand Emamdjomeh, Kevin Schaul, Jake Crump and Chris Alcantara. Editing by Danielle Rindler, Tim Meko and Matt Callahan. Additional development by Jason Holt.

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