(Washington Post Illustration)

On July 18, The Washington Post made publicly accessible part of a Drug Enforcement Administration database that tracked the path of every pain pill sold in the United States between 2006 and 2012. Since then, we have registered more than 38,000 downloads of the data, in whole or in part, and over 550 messages from local journalists, educators, researchers, federal and local government workers, health-care professionals, volunteers, advocates and citizens.

Our hope in releasing the data was that local reporters, in particular, would use it to tell stories about the impact of the opioid crisis in their communities. And they have: Journalists from over 30 states have published more than 90 articles based on the previously undisclosed DEA data.

For some journalists, the data confirmed what they have been reporting in their communities for years: “It adds statistical proof of what we knew already — that America, and New Jersey, were flooded by prescription opioids at the start of a period that has killed at least 19,600 of our residents,” said Stephen Stirling, a data reporter at NJ.com who analyzed the impact of the pain pills in New Jersey.

In Kentucky, where the flow of pain pills left behind a trail of deaths from opioids, the DEA data didn’t come as a surprise to Russ Cassady, regional editor of the Appalachian News-Express. But he was still shocked by the magnitude of the figures. From 2006 to 2012, there were 66,785,120 prescription pain pills supplied to Pike County — 146 pills per person per year.

“We knew the numbers were bad, but it definitely gives some perspective," Cassady said. “The epicenter of the map you guys posted, the deep red counties, that’s us.”

The database also revealed new patterns and clues. “I learned that the opioid problem seemed to affect poor white people more than any other demographic,” said AL.com data reporter Ramsey Archibald, who analyzed the DEA data in Alabama. “Majority black counties tended to be near the bottom of the list.”

Similar local-focused data analyses have sprouted all over the country.

The database has also spurred larger conversations about the role of the federal government in the opioid epidemic. In an editorial, Minnesota’s Star Tribune wondered if the federal government should have done more to prevent the spread of addictive pills: "What was the DEA doing as the opioid epidemic gathered steam? Was no one bothering to mine the data for details? If so, why not?”

Confronted with the new evidence about the number of pain pills that flowed into their communities, local officials have reacted to the stories reported by local news organizations. “It was really saddening to look at those numbers,” Cheshire County Administrator Christopher C. Coates said to the The Keene Sentinel of New Hampshire.

As local journalists, researchers and citizens keep digging into the data and discovering new things in it, we will attempt to update the list below. To send us a story you’ve published or reach out to our reporters about the data, read more about our guidelines here.

Local stories based on the DEA database:

  • Where the opioid epidemic hit Alabama hardest (AL.com, Alabama)
  • Washington Post prescription pain pill database: 1.7 billion pain pills in Alabama from 2006-2012 (WHNT, Alabama)
  • Avalanche of opioids: Why are millions of pills prescribed in rural Walker County? (Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama)
  • Why 2012 in Post stories? We know now... (Daily Mountain Eagle, Alabama)
  • The Opioid Crisis: A National Health Emergency | Data reveals scope of crisis across Sand Mountain (The Sand Mountain Reporter, Alabama)
  • Millions of opioid pills flooded Arizona communities during prescription drug boom (Arizona Republic, Arizona)
  • LA’s Opioid Problem Is Big, But Also Relatively Small. Follow The Map Of Pain Pills (LAist, California)
  • Opioid crisis data: 70 million pain pills dispensed in Humboldt County from 2006 to 2012 (Times Standard, California)
  • Santa Barbara area included in DEA opioid data obtained by Washington Post (KEYT, California)
  • Defining an epidemic: Washington Post investigation sheds light on opioid prescriptions in Tuolumne County, elsewhere (Union Democrat, California)
  • 158 million opioid pills flowed into Ventura County between 2006-2012 (Ventura County Star, California)
  • Want To Know Where The Opioid Epidemic Hit Colorado Hardest? Follow Where The Pills Went (Colorado Public Radio, Colorado)
  • Opioid Crisis: 1 Billion Pain Pills Flooded Colorado In 7 Years (Patch, Colorado)
  • Prescription Opioids Targeted Connecticut’s Most Vulnerable Citizens (The Connecticut Health I-Team, Connecticut)
  • In 7-year period, 300 million painkillers shipped into Delaware (News Journal, Delaware)
  • Stopping the flow of opioids in Delaware (Delaware State News, Delaware)
  • Sale of opioids in Nassau County from 2006-2012 (Fernandina Observer Daily News, Florida)
  • Washington Post investigation reveals significant opioid use on the Suncoast (WWSB, Florida)
  • 1 billion opioid pills flooded Central Florida, federal database reveals (WKMG, Florida)
  • Florida’s opioid crisis: billions of pills, millions in campaign cash (Tampa Bay Times, Florida)
  • 5.6 billion opioid pills flooded the state, and rogue South Florida doctors helped get them on the streets (Sun Sentinel, Florida)
  • National Data Shows High Rates Of Opioid Prescriptions In West Georgia (Gradick, Georgia)
  • What the distribution of pain pills has looked like in Northeast Georgia (The Gainesville Times, Georgia)
  • Higher Per-Capita Distribution of Pain Pills On Neighbor Islands (Honolulu Civil Beat, Hawaii)
  • Data: 7M pills sent to county (Republic-Times, Illinois)
  • Leavenworth County, Kansas, May Not Be The Catastrophic Opioid Hotspot That New Data Appear To Show (KMUW, Kansas)
  • Washington Post data shows Paintsville pharmacies at top of state’s list of pain pill dispensers (Paintsville Herald, Kentucky)
  • Appalachian Newspapers “Above the Fold” podcast about the data (Appalachian Newspapers, Kentucky)
  • Over 40 million prescription pain pills flooded Whitley Co. between 2006 — 2012, report shows (New Journal, Kentucky)
  • Data shows spread of 76 billion opioid pills (WKYT, Kentucky)
  • Federal data shows spread of 76 billion opioid pills (WBRZ, Louisiana)
  • Pharmaland (Bayou Brief, Louisiana)
  • Newly released data shows big drug companies flooded nation with 76 billion opioid pills (Portland Press Herald, Maine)
  • The Maine pharmacy that dispensed the most pain pills in opioid crisis’ early days was in Bangor (Bangor Daily News, Maine)
  • Use this map to find out how many opioid pills your local pharmacy received (Bangor Daily News, Maine)
  • Ex City Pharmacy Top Dispenser of Opioids in Cecil County, Third in State, DEA Data Show (Cecil Times, Maryland)
  • Millions Of Opioid Pain Pills Flowed Into Mass. Pharmacies, Data Show (WBUR, Massachusetts)
  • Worcester pharmacies distributed 49 million opioids in years leading up to crisis (Worcester Business Journal, Massachusetts)
  • One drugstore dispensed a lot of painkillers. But that’s not the whole story (Boston Globe, Massachusetts)
  • Data shows flood of opioids before OD surge (The Sun, Massachusetts)
  • Where did all the pain pills go? These Michigan counties got the most. (Detroit Free Press, Michigan)
  • Data: In 7 years, over 115M opioid pills were shipped to Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties (Lansing State Journal, Michigan)
  • Could feds have sounded the alarm sooner on opioid epidemic? (Star Tribune, Minnesota)
  • Who’s selling opioids in Minnesota? (Duluth News Tribune, Minnesota)
  • Data: Nearly 1 billion pain pills flooded Minnesota during height of opioid crisis (MPR, Minnesota)
  • DEA data shows unusually high shipments of opioids to small-town Minnesota (Forum News Service, Minnesota)
  • DEA database reveals number of opioid prescriptions in Mississippi (WAPT, Mississippi)
  • Data shows millions of painkillers delivered to central Missouri counties (Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri)
  • Recently released opioid data shows millions of pain pills were dispensed here 2006-2012 (Ozark County Times, Missouri)
  • DEA: Nearly 1.5 million opioid pills shipped into Adair County per year (KTVO, Missouri)
  • They thought they were easing pain': Montana sees 245 million prescription pain pills in 7 years (Billings Gazette, Montana)
  • Pain pill database reveals scope, ‘sadness’ of epidemic in region (Sentinel Source, New Hampshire)
  • How 1.5 billion painkillers flooded N.J. and sparked an epidemic that’s killed nearly 20K people (NJ.com, New Jersey)
  • National database reveals the flow of pain pills in New Mexico (KRQE, New Mexico)
  • Onondaga County flooded with 124 million pain pills as opioid epidemic surged (Post-Standard, New York)
  • 4,505,100 Opioid Pain Pills, One Bronx Pharmacy: How Drug Suppliers Fueled an Overdose Crisis (Bronx Justice News, New York)
  • More than 29M pain pills flooded Oswego County in six-year period (Oswego County News Now, New York)
  • Opioid rate higher in Niagara County than anywhere in the state (WGRZ, New York)
  • DEA releases database tracking pain pills sold in the US (WHEC, New York)
  • Catawba County received 67.3 million opioid pills in 7 years. That’s the equivalent of 62 pills per person per year. (Hickory Daily Record, North Carolina)
  • New data from DEA confirms major opioid problem in some NC counties (WLOS, North Carolina)
  • Post research gives scale to opioid epidemic (Courier-Times, North Carolina)
  • Forced to Fight: Opioid data puts local addiction in context (Smoky Mountain News, North Carolina)
  • Forced to Fight: Law enforcement grapples with opioids in Appalachia (Smoky Mountain News, North Carolina)
  • Forced to Fight: Addicts long for life beyond heroin (Smoky Mountain News, North Carolina)
  • Columbus led state in opioid pills per person; Unsealed data reveals ‘virtual road map to the opioid epidemic’ (News Reporter, North Carolina)
  • Database Compiles Opioid Pill Amounts – Transylvania County, NC (The Transylvania Times, North Carolina)
  • A flood of pills: Millions of opioid pain pills flowed through the area, sparking an epidemic, according to government data (Winston-Salem Journal, North Carolina)
  • Addicted: Origins of an Epidemic (WECT News, North Carolina)
  • How An Influx Of Opioids Took Its Toll On Jackson County, Ohio (WOSU, Ohio)
  • Drug companies dumped 415 million pain pills on Miami Valley in 6-year period (WDTN, Ohio)
  • Lorain County: How narcotic pain pills came to local users (Morning Journal, Ohio)
  • DEA’s opioid database reveals 6 local pharmacies supplied huge amounts of painkillers (WKRC, Ohio)
  • Billions of opioids shipped to Ohio in just 7 years (Columbus Dispatch, Ohio)
  • From 2006 to 2012, 38 pain pills per person per year supplied in Tuscarawas County (Times-Reporter, Ohio)
  • ‘Unfathomable’: How 1.6 million pills from a small-town doctor helped fuel the opioid crisis in Ohio (Cleveland.com, Ohio)
  • As opioid crisis surged, state pharmacy board member had the busiest pharmacy in Tulsa County (The Frontier, Oklahoma)
  • Oregon opioid epidemic: Pills flooded the state as overdoses climbed, unsealed data show (The Oregonian, Oregon)
  • Oregon pharmacists sold millions of opioid pills, say they felt powerless to say no (The Oregonian, Oregon)
  • 11 Investigates: Overdose deaths are dropping but opioids still a problem (WPXI, Pennsylvania)
  • More than 40 million prescription opioid pills distributed in Beaver County (Beaver County Times, Pennsylvania)
  • CDC: From 2006 to 2012, 40 million opioids prescribed in Valley (Danville News, Pennsylvania)
  • Study: 81 million opioid pills shipped to York County as U.S. epidemic grew (York Dispatch, Pennsylvania)
  • DEA database: More than 140M prescription pain pills shipped to southcentral PA (Evening Sun, Pennsylvania)
  • How opioid painkillers became big business in a Philadelphia neighborhood already ravaged by drugs (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)
  • As drug overdose deaths soared, so did the supply of opioid pills in Pa. and Berks County (Reading Eagle, Pennsylvania)
  • New data analysis puts Charleston County at center of opioid crisis (WCIV, South Carolina)
  • Washington Post analysis shows SC, Charleston are hot spots for opioids (The State, South Carolina)
  • DEA’s database provides opioid numbers for Greenville County (Greenville Journal, South Carolina)
  • Charleston County had highest rate of opioids dispensed in the nation, new DEA data shows (Post and Courier, South Carolina)
  • South Carolina ranks as one of the top states for opioid distribution (WMBF, South Carolina)
  • VA mail-out pharmacy responsible for high number of opioids in Charleston Co., data shows (WCSC, South Carolina)
  • DEA data shows 2.5 billion pain pills distributed in Tennessee over 6 years (Fox 17, Tennessee )
  • New data reveals millions of opioid pills have been supplied to Kaufman County (Kaufman Herald, Texas)
  • Wilson pharmacies received 37M opioid pills in seven years (The Wilson Post, Texas)
  • Millions of opioid pills poured into southeast Utah’s sparsely populated coal country (Salt Lake Tribune, Utah)
  • Data Dive: As Opioid Crisis Ramped Up, Pills Flowed Into Vermont by the Millions (Seven Days, Vermont)
  • Opioid crisis in Hampton Roads: More than 226 million pills — and that’s about average (Virginian-Pilot, Virginia)
  • Data shows virtual opioid belt stretching through Southwest Virginia (Bristol Herald Courier, Virginia)
  • Here’s how many opioid pills were shipped here in seven years (Staunton News Leader, Virginia)
  • When (and where) opioids have been spread across Washington (MyNorthwest.com, Washington)
  • Seven years, 23 million pills: Data shows effect of opioid crisis in Wenatchee Valley (Wenatchee World, Washington)
  • Shocking statistics for Jefferson & Clallam Counties in opioid database from Washington Post. (Olympic Peninsula Healthcare Forum, Washington)
  • Data: Clallam hit opioid peak highest in state (Peninsula Daily News, Washington)
  • New Federal Data Confirms What We Already Know: Opioid Distributions Inundated Appalachia (100 Days in Appalachia, West Virginia)
  • More than $600k in pharma donations as opioids flooded into state (Daily Jefferson County Union, Wisconsin)
  • How the opioid crisis struck Jefferson County and how the community came together to fight it (Daily Jefferson County Union, Wisconsin)

National stories

  • Drug makers flooded US with billions of opioid pills as epidemic surged, data shows (The Guardian)
  • Opioid shipments ballooned as an addiction crisis grew, data shows (CBS)
  • Data show many companies contributed to US opioid crisis (Associated Press)
  • Newly released data shows flow of billions of pain pills from drug companies (CNN)
  • US drug companies distributed 76B opioid pills over 7 years (Fox Business)
  • Opioid Shipments Ballooned As Addiction Crisis Grew: Federal Data (HuffPost)
  • Even as opioid deaths grew, drugmakers and distributors made and sold pills ‘like Doritos’ (USA Today Editorial Board)
  • Federal Judge Orders Release Of Dataset Showing Drug Industry’s Role In Opioid Crisis (NPR)
  • Pharmalittle: Data show pharma saturated U.S. with opioids; Swiss extradite Chinese researcher (STAT)