A recent article featured in The Atlantic, offered a peak into the city of Manchester and Clay County and just what the opioid crisis looks like in Eastern Kentucky. Manchester has a population of only 1,500, occupies just 1.5 square miles as a city, and is home to 11 pharmacies. That’s seven pharmacies you will pass in a mile, and adds up to about one pharmacy for every 136 people. But it is hard for these numbers alone to drive home the scope of this growing problem. To better illustrate the intensity of some of this, let's apply these ratios to the city of Louisville.
The urban population of Louisville is around 760,000, and the total land covered is around 398 square miles. To give a point of reference, Louisville has approximately 310 pharmacies right now, according to the Yellow Pages. Manchester has exactly 7.3 pharmacies per square mile. Apply the same ratio to Louisville and you get a city with 2,905 pharmacies. This is not the worse approximation. With a ratio of 1 pharmacy to every 136 people, Louisville would end up with 5,588 pharmacies. Right now, Louisville has a ratio close to 1 pharmacy for every 2,451 people. Applying this to Manchester would mean they would not even have 1 pharmacy.
Unfortunately, the rapid distribution of opioids is not just happening in the city of Manchester, but has affected all of Clay County. Holding a population of 21,000, this county has distributed 2.2 million in hydrocodone doses and 617,000 doses of oxycodone. If these population rates matched those of Louisville, the city would be distributing over 79 million doses of hydrocodone along with over 22 million doses of oxycodone. A dose is considered one pill.
Information gathered at a local pharmacy estimated that the conservative cost of a dose of hydrocodone is $4.97 and that for oxycodone ranges from $4.97 to $6.17. This means that in total, the cost of these doses in one year conservatively could be over $500 million.
Below are a three graphics to put these numbers in to context:
Current Number of Pharmacies per Resident in Louisville (above)
Current Number of Pharmacies per Resident in Manchester (below)