SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Journalists have won a year-long legal fight for the release of government information about shipments of oxycodone and hydrocodone in the U.S. and now that information is available to the public.
The Washington Post reports it 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 the legal battle for access to the database, which the government and the drug industry had sought to keep secret,” the newspaper wrote, adding that they are making the data available to help the public understand the impact in their community.
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.