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Eric Eyre Books In Order

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Eric Eyre
Eric Eyre is a non-fiction author and a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter. He is best known for his debut novel Death in Mud Lick. This book documents the author’s investigation into government and corporate greed that led to the pumping of millions of pain medicine to small towns in Appalachia. Eyre has been a reporter since 1998, and his writing shows that he has done enough research on the pain meds saga. The talented author lives in Charleston with his wife and son.

Death in Mud Lick
Death in Mud Lick tells the story of the overuse of painkillers in a town in West Virginia. A pharmacy in Kermit distributed over 12 million opioid pills in just three years. In a city with a population of only 382 people, this number is shocking. No one would have known taken a keen interest in this were it not for a woman who decided to seek justice after brother overdosed on the opioid pain pills. Many more lives were lost, and the effects of these drugs continue to be felt to date. So, how did this case go? Was justice served in the end?

William Preece was working as a coal miner when he suffered a back injury. The doctors prescribed Lortab and Oxycontin, but this marked the end of William’s life. A few years later, the once industrious man was hooked on the pain meds, and he overdosed in 2005. William’s sister Debbie saw the effects the drugs had on her brother, and she became an anti-opioid crusader. Debbie felt that unless she spoke up, more people would continue to die of drugs that were meant to help them in the first place.

Debbie tried everything to save her brother. She took him to rehab, talked to him often, and even told him to be careful because she could tell that he was addicted to drugs. When the doctor who prescribed her brother’s, medicine kept on calling to ask for her brother’s MRI, Debbie couldn’t shake the feeling that something very wrong was going on. It is not until Debbie handed the envelope with William’s MRI that she discovered that she was being involved in a coverup that could see more people die after overdosing on drugs that were supposed to help them.

Debbie’s quest for justice took her out of her small town, and her search led her to the three largest drug distributors, including AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health. Her story attracted journalists who wanted to share the news with the world and a crusade of lawyers eager to represent her. Among the journalists was Eric Eyre, the author of this book. Eric uncovered the opioid dumping scandal, and his sensational reporting earned him a Pulitzer Prize while the large drug companies took quite a beating.

Eyre interweaves Debbie’s quest for justice and his own efforts and battles against an attorney who was so tied to the pharmaceutical industry that he was willing to get in the way of the truth. Drug and government agencies did everything to stop Eyre’s investigation, and through all this, the author also had to contend with Parkinson’s disease and financial difficulties. The author includes colorful details, startling statistics, and hard facts about this national tragedy.

Part of this book details the clandestine meetings between the author and whistleblowers. You will also get to read about the court fights to unseal files drug distributors tried to hide from the public and the fallout that followed when the Gazette-Mail, a small local paper, broke this story. The author’s investigation followed several opioid shipments to different counties. It also shows how the pharmacies helped hook thousands of people in Virginia and beyond to prescription drugs. The author tells of how Sav-Rite employees were so busy selling the pills that the store rarely closed. The lines were huge, and to make it more bearable, customers were offered courtesy snacks. Cash drawers couldn’t close because they were so full, and it was apparent to any observant person that this was purely business.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that the people trusted with these drugs were not concerned about the dosage. Anyone could purchase as many opioids as they wanted, and the sellers were all too happy to give them what they wanted. Debbie’s brother, for example, comfortably bought the opioids even though his doctors did not know the reason why he was taking them.

All is not gloom as the author documents some positive changes following the tragedy. The citizen concerned united, and there is hope that this book and other efforts that have been put to expose the rot will come with a positive change. Many treatment centers have already been opened to take care of those who still struggle with the drug’s side effects. The profiteers of such deals have taken a back seat as the primary focus now is on the healing and search for justice for those that lost their loved ones.

This is one of the essential works that you should consider if you are interested in Appalachia’s history. The author highlights how the US views this area while concentrating on the pills flood that caused many deaths in the region. It is hard to imagine that these stories are true. Imagine pharmacies attracting and entertaining crowds, even to the extent of bringing food trucks and popcorn makers to them only to entice them to buy prescription drugs that would lead them to an early grave.

Death in Mud Lick is a work of personal conviction, in-depth reporting, and a deep passion for the truth. The author intimately portrays the crisis in the national public health sector and the patterns caused by corporate greed on West Virginia citizens. Unfortunately, these patterns are replicated throughout the country, and, sadly, many have lost loved ones in the process. Even for readers who have heard about this epidemic, this book brings a new perspective to the whole mess. The book shows how a mourning woman, a scrappy lawyer, and a struggling reporter come together to take on some of the country’s biggest forces and come out victorious.

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