Snohomish County’s heroin problem could be linked to LA drug sales

Aug 18, 2016, 3:13 PM

It’s well known that the heroin epidemic in the Puget Sound region has spiraled out of control. Maybe less known is that OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and drug dealers from Los Angeles might be – at least partially – to blame.

The LA Times reports that drug dealers were working with doctors and pharmacies to gather “enormous quantities of the drug.” And while Purdue Pharma was tracking what the Times describes as “voluminous prescriptions” being written, the company didn’t share that information or try to stop the massive flow of the addictive opioid until more than one million pills were distributed onto the black market.

Harriet Ryan, one of three reporters who worked on the LA Times’ story, told Seattle’s Morning News said the amount of OxyContin being sold should have been a red flag. All companies, she said, track how their medicines are selling so they can figure out how to market them and find more people to market to.

“Purdue could see which doctors were only writing prescriptions for 80-milligram pills,” she told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross.

Those pills were, until 2010, considered by many to be equal to, or better than heroin. However, changes in how the pill was made prevented them from being as mistreated as they were. That’s why people, including those in western Washington, switched to heroin, Ryan explained.

One of the hardest hit areas was Everett. The Times reports OxyContin “devastated” the area.

“At the height of the drug’s popularity, it was a factor in more than half of the crimes in Snohomish County,” the Times reports.

The pills, which were being purchased from a phony clinic, would be transported up to Everett and then dispersed to surrounding communities.

Since then, the area in Snohomish County has struggled to bounce back.

A sales tax to help fund law enforcement and fight the opioid epidemic was on the primary ballot. The extra tax money would have funded more deputies, drug and alcohol treatment, and social services. Voters narrowly rejected the tax; about 50.1 percent voted no.

Meanwhile, dozens die of overdoses every year. The Seattle Times reports more than 400 people died of opioid-related overdoses in Snohomish County between 2011 and 2014.

Dave's Commentary

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave Ross

biden farenthold...

Dave Ross

Ross: Biden is out of the presidential race, just as Farenthold predicted. What can he predict next?

I found Joe Biden had removed himself from the race and thought of Farenthold, my favorite NYT reporter who predicted that very thing three weeks ago.

2 days ago

trump shooter motive...

Dave Ross

Ross: Motive of Trump shooter not important, how he got an AR-15 is

As much as we would all like to understand the motive of the Trump shooter, I don’t see us doing much with that information.

9 days ago

kamala harris...

KIRO Newsradio staff

From the audience: Kamala Harris needs to lead next generation of Democrats

Joe Biden merely needs to hand over the reins of power to his second in command, Vice President Kamala Harris, and sooner rather than later.

15 days ago


KIRO Newsradio staff

From the audience: How my father’s age makes me scared for Joe Biden

A KIRO Newsradio listener shared his views: As I watch my dad, sometimes what I see in me – I feel it's time for Joe Biden to "let it go."

16 days ago

Image: A driver used a fake "dummy" passenger so he could drive in the HOV lane on I-405 in June 20...

Dave Ross

Dave Ross dedicates one of his hits to the commuter caught with a dummy

It happened again last month: A commuter was caught in the carpool lane with a very lifelike dummy. Although, it did not fool the police.

18 days ago

biden trump presidential debate...

Dave Ross

Ross: Now I get my say on Biden, Trump during the presidential debate

The real catastrophe was that Biden’s terrible performance seems to have caused everyone to forget this little exchange with Trump during the debate.

23 days ago

Snohomish County’s heroin problem could be linked to LA drug sales