[Skip to Navigation]
Medical News & Perspectives
April 10, 2018

A Day in the Life: Facing the Opioid Epidemic in Huntington, West Virginia

JAMA. 2018;319(14):1423-1424. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.1353

Some days, the biggest struggle facing Beth Toppins, MD, isn’t strictly clinical. It’s overcoming frustration, a word that Toppins, medical director of the Emergency Department at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, West Virginia, returns to frequently during the course of conversation.

In mid-August 2016, Cabell County, in the southwestern part of the state, made headlines when public health officials reported 20 opioid overdose cases in a 53-hour period. For years, opiates flowed unabated into the county of some 96 000 residents. A lawsuit filed last year charged that 9 distributors, including CVS Indiana and Walgreen Eastern Co Inc, failed to investigate and stop 40 million prescription hydrocodone and oxycodone pills from flooding the county between 2007 and 2012.