Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic

Scribner. Mar. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781982105310. $28. SOC SCI
Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Eyre ((Charleston Gazette-Mail)) explains how pain management became big business in Kermit, WV, where 300 people were responsible for the distribution of more than 12 million opioid pills in the span of three years. Based on extensive investigative reporting, this work follows the trail of drug companies after one man’s death from an overdose of prescription pain pills, leading the man’s sister to file a wrongful death suit. After receiving a tip that the suit would face serious challenges from powerful drug company interests in the state, Eyre discovered that staggering quantities of opioids were being shipped into small towns in West Virginia and nearby states, with the drug network being supported by several companies. During his reporting, Eyre stumbles upon pill parties in parking lots and exposes inadequate DEA oversight, blatant conflicts of interest, and testimony from drug company executives expressing some remorse but no admissions of guilt for the actions. The book ends with an unresolved question: Is the multimillion dollar settlement from drug companies enough?
VERDICT Timely and well documented, with appeal to a broad range of readers.

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