Drug wholesalers poured 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into West Virginia over a six-year period. That’s about 433 opioids for every man, woman, and child in the state, which already has the highest overdose rate in the country.
When the House Energy and Commerce Committee launched a bipartisan investigation into the matter last May, West Virginia Republican Rep. David McKinley found his chance to hold the wholesalers accountable. He’s not on the committee but waived on to ask his own questions.
“These distributors were bringing 800 million pills into West Virginia, and they knew it,” McKinley told VICE News. He holds up to six roundtables a week on opioids in his home district and has yet to meet a family that the epidemic hasn’t touched.
Exactly one year after the investigation began, the heads of the top five distributors, who overwhelmingly control the supply chain, were hauled in before the subcommittee on oversight to testify about what they knew, and why they didn’t put a stop to it.
VICE News joined McKinkley as he prepared to grill the wholesalers about their role in the opioid crisis ravaging his state.
This segment originally aired May 9, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.