“Death to Mud Lick”, by Eric Eyre: legal drug trafficking

“Mort à Mud Lick” (Death in Mud Lick. A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic), by Eric Eyre, translated from English (United States) by Romain Guillou, Globe, 336 p ., € 22, digital € 15.

The unveiling of the truth sometimes requires a human chain forming a coalition. In this case, the first link presented the worst profile possible. Imagine a whistleblower with a convict’s past. With other members of her family, Debbie Preece has indeed served a sentence of three and a half years in prison for organizing drug trafficking in Kermit, a town in the Appalachians. When she left, she reinserted herself, like her brother Bull. But, after an accident at work in a coal mine, he was prescribed powerful painkillers, on which he became dependent. He died of an overdose in 2005.

Orders of convenience

Or a trivial news item in this lost corner of West Virginia which has seen an increase in deaths from drug excess since the introduction on the market, at the end of the 1990s, of analgesics highly concentrated in addictive substances, hydrocodone and oxycodone. “The drug-related crisis was costing the state 430 million per year, writes journalist Eric Eyre, one of the links in the chain, in Death to Mud Lick. Babies were born dependent, families were destroyed, the prison budget exploded, hospital emergencies were saturated with patients seeking painkillers. “

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Debbie Preece found a wad of prescriptions and bottles of pills in her brother’s mobile home. In 2007, she decided to file a complaint against those responsible for this poisoning. That year, the only pharmacy in Kermit, a village of 300 inhabitants, sold 4.5 million opioid analgesics. She filled up to 1,000 prescriptions per day and over 90% of them were for narcotics.

In 2007, the only pharmacy in Kermit, a village of 300 inhabitants, sold 4.5 million opioid analgesics

In front of the dispensary, traffic jams from around a hundred kilometers away. Such an anomaly was not isolated in West Virginia. Here and there, unscrupulous doctors were issuing prescriptions of convenience and pharmaceutical distributors were flooding the market. In six years, the wholesalers of the sector have poured 780 million painkillers in this mountainous state, sparsely populated.

For decades, American novels and films have documented Mafia networks and drug trafficking, an inexhaustible source of thrillers and thrillers. They are very rare to describe the recent turn taken by the consumption of narcotics in the United States. Queuing in front of a pharmacy for approved tablets offers, it is true, less spectacular narrative springs. No gang wars or shootouts, just legal business – albeit just as deadly.

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“Death to Mud Lick”, by Eric Eyre: legal drug trafficking