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Drug makers flooded U.S. with opioids

In 2012, after the addictive properties of opioid pain pills were known, drug companies shipped 12.6 billion of them to U.S. pharmacies. That works out to about 38 each for every man, woman and child in this country.

No wonder drug companies involved in lawsuits over marketing of opioid painkillers resisted releasing of the information.

They did, but this week, a federal court in Cleveland released data on shipments of pain pills from 2006 to 2012. A total of 76 billion pills were pumped into pharmacies in that seven-year period. The flow in 2012 was more than 50% higher than in 2006.

One reason release of the data was delayed for months is that federal Drug Enforcement Agency officials told a judge such action would jeopardize their investigations. One wonders how long the DEA needs to make cases in what is a major scandal.

Now a judge has asked the DEA and attorneys from all sides in the lawsuits to discuss how to handle information from 2013 and 2014.

Just release it.

Clearly, at least some drug company executives knew precisely what they were doing in flooding the nation with opioid pain pills. The sooner the public understands the magnitude of what they did, the sooner they can be punished.

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