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 380 million transactions from 2006 through 2012 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 100,000 deaths during the seven-year time frame ending in 2012.

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 76 billion in all.

Number of pills distributed per person, per year

Average yearly total, by county, 2006 through 2012

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 51 percent from 8.4 billion in 2006 to 12.6 billion in 2012. Yearly county-level maps show how the influx of pills spread.

Just six companies distributed 75 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 2012

Click on a column to sort the table.

Distributor Percent of market

McKesson Corp.

14 billion pills

18.4%

Walgreens

13 billion pills

16.5%

Cardinal Health

11 billion pills

14.0%

AmerisourceBergen

9.0 billion pills

11.7%

CVS

5.9 billion pills

7.7%

Walmart

5.3 billion pills

6.9%

Smith Drug Co.

1.3 billion pills

1.8%

Rite Aid

1.3 billion pills

1.7%

Kroger

1.2 billion pills

1.6%

H. D. Smith

1.1 billion pills

1.5%

Anda, Inc

1.1 billion pills

1.5%

Kaiser Permanente

880 million pills

1.1%

Morris & Dickson Co

880 million pills

1.1%

Thrifty Payless Inc

870 million pills

1.1%

Eckerd Corporation

780 million pills

1.0%

Omnicare Distribution Center LLC

700 million pills

0.9%

Kinray Inc

630 million pills

0.8%

N C Mutual Wholesale Drug Co

550 million pills

0.7%

Smith's Food & Drug Ctr's Inc

500 million pills

0.7%

The Harvard Drug Group

410 million pills

0.5%

Advantage Logistics

380 million pills

0.5%

Value Drug Co

310 million pills

0.4%

Publix Super Markets, Inc.

280 million pills

0.4%

River City Pharma

270 million pills

0.4%

SAJ Distributors

270 million pills

0.4%

HEB Grocery Company, LP

240 million pills

0.3%

Harco

210 million pills

0.3%

Valley Wholesale Drug Co

210 million pills

0.3%

Associated Pharmacies Inc

190 million pills

0.3%

Louisiana Wholesale Drug Co

190 million pills

0.3%

Qualitest Pharmaceuticals

180 million pills

0.2%

Frank W Kerr Inc

170 million pills

0.2%

KeySource Medical

160 million pills

0.2%

Top Rx, Inc.

160 million pills

0.2%

American Drug Stores

150 million pills

0.2%

American Sales Company

140 million pills

0.2%

Longs Drug Store

130 million pills

0.2%

Quest Pharmaceuticals Inc

120 million pills

0.2%

Miami-Luken

120 million pills

0.1%

Hy-Vee

110 million pills

0.1%

Pharmacy Buying Association

110 million pills

0.1%

Mc Queary Brothers

100 million pills

0.1%

Meijer Distribution Inc #90

100 million pills

0.1%

Rochester Drug Co-Operative Inc

100 million pills

0.1%

HBC Service Company

93 million pills

0.1%

Par Pharmaceutical, Inc.

85 million pills

0.1%

Dakota Drug

79 million pills

0.1%

Dik Drug Co

78 million pills

0.1%

KPH Healthcare Services, Inc.

76 million pills

0.1%

Albertsons LLC

74 million pills

0.1%

Aphena Pharma Solutions

71 million pills

0.1%

Sunrise Wholesale, Inc

66 million pills

0.1%

P J C Distributor Co Inc

65 million pills

0.1%

Wakefern Food Corporation

65 million pills

0.1%

Auburn Pharmaceutical

62 million pills

0.1%

Winn Dixie Logistics

58 million pills

0.1%

Southwood Pharmaceuticals Inc

57 million pills

0.1%

Discount Drug Mart

54 million pills

0.1%

Dispensing Solutions

52 million pills

0.1%

Prescription Supply Inc

51 million pills

0.1%

Murfreesboro Pharmaceutical

47 million pills

0.1%

Burlington Drug Company

46 million pills

0.1%

NuCare Pharmaceuticals

45 million pills

0.1%

DRx Pharmaceutical Consultants, Inc.

40 million pills

0.1%

Bellco Drug Corp

39 million pills

0.1%

Bryant Ranch Prepack

37 million pills

0.1%

Schnucks Pharmacy Distribution Ctr

37 million pills

0.1%

Drogueria Betances

36 million pills

0.1%

Bloodworth Wholesale Drugs

36 million pills

0.1%

Expert-Med

35 million pills

0.1%

Henry Schein Inc

34 million pills

0.0%

Actavis Pharma

32 million pills

0.0%

Heartland Repack Services

32 million pills

0.0%

D & K Healthcare Resources

26 million pills

0.0%

White Drug 61

26 million pills

0.0%

PD-Rx Pharmaceuticals Inc

26 million pills

0.0%

Cedardale Distributors LLC, DBA Gen-Source RX

25 million pills

0.0%

Altura Pharmaceuticals, Inc

24 million pills

0.0%

Richie Pharmacal

24 million pills

0.0%

Stat Rx USA LLC

23 million pills

0.0%

Paragon Enterprises Inc

22 million pills

0.0%

Dixon-Shane LLC

22 million pills

0.0%

Dohmen Distribution Partners

22 million pills

0.0%

Mallinckrodt LLC

21 million pills

0.0%

Allscripts, LLC

20 million pills

0.0%

Lake Erie Medical

20 million pills

0.0%

King Drug Company of Florence

18 million pills

0.0%

Aidarex Pharmaceuticals LLC

16 million pills

0.0%

DIT Healthcare Distributio

14 million pills

0.0%

QK Healthcare, Inc.

13 million pills

0.0%

Moore Medical LLC

13 million pills

0.0%

H J Harkins Company Inc

12 million pills

0.0%

Genetco Inc

12 million pills

0.0%

Lifeline Pharmaceuticals LLC

12 million pills

0.0%

MWI Veterinary Supply

9.9 million pills

0.0%

Duane Reade

9.7 million pills

0.0%

Medsource Pharmaceuticals

9.5 million pills

0.0%

JM Blanco Inc

9.1 million pills

0.0%

Physicians Total Care

9.0 million pills

0.0%

Amneal Pharmaceuticals

8.9 million pills

0.0%

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Three companies manufactured about 88 percent of the opioids: SpecGx, a subsidiary of Mallinckrodt; Actavis Pharma; and Par Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Endo Pharmaceuticals.

Top pill manufacturers, 2006 through 2012

Click on a column to sort the table.

Labeler Percent of market

SpecGx

29 billion pills

37.7%

Actavis Pharma

26 billion pills

34.5%

Par Pharmaceutical

12 billion pills

15.7%

Purdue Pharma

2.5 billion pills

3.3%

Amneal Pharmaceuticals

2.3 billion pills

2.9%

Teva Pharmaceuticals USA

690 million pills

0.9%

KVK Tech

580 million pills

0.8%

West-Ward Pharmaceuticals

380 million pills

0.5%

Kaiser Foundation Hospitals

370 million pills

0.5%

Endo Pharmaceuticals

300 million pills

0.4%

Ethex Corporation

290 million pills

0.4%

AbbVie Inc.

250 million pills

0.3%

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc.

240 million pills

0.3%

UCB, Inc.

180 million pills

0.2%

Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

140 million pills

0.2%

Cardinal Health

120 million pills

0.2%

Dispensing Solutions Inc.

95 million pills

0.1%

Golden State Medical Supply, Inc.

85 million pills

0.1%

Aphena Pharma Solutions - Tennessee, LLC

74 million pills

0.1%

McKesson Corp.

65 million pills

0.1%

Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

55 million pills

0.1%

Forest Laboratories, Inc.

47 million pills

0.1%

Bryant Ranch Prepack

37 million pills

0.1%

Pfizer Laboratories Div Pfizer Inc

31 million pills

0.0%

A-S Medication Solutions

28 million pills

0.0%

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 2012

5

75

150+

Opioid Deaths

Cumulative opioid death rate 2006 through 2012

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 2012

5

75

150+

Opioid Deaths

Cumulative opioid death rate 2006 through 2012

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 2012

Cumulative opioid death rate 2006 through 2012

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 2012

Cumulative opioid death rate 2006 through 2012

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 2012

Cumulative opioid death rate 2006 through 2012

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 2012.

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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