Opioid Distributors Targeted by Panel

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congressional investigators say wholesale pharmaceutical distributors shipped hundreds of millions of prescription opioid pills to West Virginia, a state disproportionately ravaged by deaths caused by the addictive drugs.

Now, lawmakers want executives of those companies to explain how that happened.

Current and former officials from five distributor companies are set to give sworn testimony on Tuesday to a House subcommittee.

Their appearances come during an election-year push by Congress to pass legislation aimed at curbing the growing epidemic. Nearly 64,000 people died last year from drug overdoses, and two-thirds of those deaths involved opioids.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has been looking into prescription opioids distribution since last May. West Virginia received unusually high shipments and has the highest death rate from drug abuse in the U.S.

(KA)