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WVU in the News: Expert: Pain pills, not just heroin, fentanyl, play major role in WV opioid crisis

Prescription painkillers played a major role in fatal overdoses in Huntington and Cabell County over a two-decade period, an epidemiologist said Thursday at the federal opioid trial in Charleston.

The testimony came after the local governments turned the presentment of their case to look at the role prescription pain pills have in the ongoing opioid crisis. The governments hope it will show the connection between prescription pain pills and heroin and other illicit opioids.

The defendants point to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, doctors and West Virginians’ poor health as the culprits.

Gordon Smith, an epidemiologist at the West Virginia University School of Public Health, was the first of his field to take the stand Thursday. Smith has focused his work on studying overdoses and other drug poisonings. He joined WVU in 2016 to study the opioid epidemic.

Read full story from Charleston Gazette-Mail.