• Death in Mud Lick

  • A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies that Delivered the Opioid Epidemic
  • By: Eric Eyre
  • Narrated by: Michael David Axtell
  • Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (76 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Critics’ Top 10 Book of the Year * 2021 Edgar Award Winner Best Fact Crime * A Lit Hub Best Book of the Year

From a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at the Charleston Gazette-Mail, a “powerful" (The New York Times), urgent, and heartbreaking account of the corporate greed that pumped millions of pain pills into small Appalachian towns, decimating communities.

In a pharmacy in Kermit, West Virginia, 12 million opioid pain pills were distributed in just three years to a town with a population of 382 people. One woman, after losing her brother to overdose, was desperate for justice. Debbie Preece’s fight for accountability for her brother’s death took her well beyond the Sav-Rite Pharmacy in coal country, ultimately leading to three of the biggest drug wholesalers in the country. She was joined by a crusading lawyer and by local journalist Eric Eyre, who uncovered a massive opioid pill-dumping scandal that shook the foundation of America’s largest drug companies - and won him a Pulitzer Prize.

Part Erin Brockovich, part Spotlight, Death in Mud Lick details the clandestine meetings with whistleblowers; a court fight to unseal filings that the drug distributors tried to keep hidden, a push to secure the DEA pill-shipment data, and the fallout after Eyre’s local paper, the Gazette-Mail, the smallest newspaper ever to win a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, broke the story.

Eyre follows the opioid shipments into individual counties, pharmacies, and homes in West Virginia and explains how thousands of Appalachians got hooked on prescription drugs - resulting in the highest overdose rates in the country. But despite the tragedy, there is also hope as citizens banded together to create positive change - and won.

“A product of one reporter’s sustained outrage [and] a searing spotlight on the scope and human cost of corruption and negligence” (The Washington Post) Eric Eyre’s intimate portrayal of a national public health crisis illuminates the shocking pattern of corporate greed and its repercussions for the citizens of West Virginia - and the nation - to this day.

©2020 Eric Eyre (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

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Very good listen.

As a resident of southern WV, I remember when all this happened. This book is an excellent chronicle of events. My only nitpick is that the narrator mispronounced several place names. Other than that, it is engrossing and very interesting.

4 people found this helpful

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Shocking that this was allowed!

A must read for all to understand the willful greed and careless attitude of the drug pharmaceuticals and the lack of government over sight!
They were, and still are “in bed together!”

2 people found this helpful

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Heartbreaking story

Eric Eyre was at the epicenter of breaking the story of the toll that opioids took on West Virginia (and the rest of the nation). There was (and is) plenty of blame to go around, but it’s not about blame. It’s way past that.

1 person found this helpful

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  • E.
  • 09-16-20

Gripping, well researched

America’s opioid crises was not driven by a random rise in demand, it was driven by pharmaceutical companies pumping millions of doses into depressed communities. This book tells the heartbreaking story of one affected state, West Virginia.

1 person found this helpful

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Read it Instead

I have a lot of thoughts:

1) the narrator did an excellent job. I really liked listening to him tell the story.
2) the story itself is not exciting. I was hoping for something more along the lines of Bad Blood, but there was no intrigue.
3) there are a lot of players in story, and it was shard to remember all of them while listening. I think reading it would have made it easier to remember who was who and how they played into the story.

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Unfortunately the writer turned a very important story into a political bias’s rant . He made it all about himself

The writer injected his own political views and opinions into an important story. When you are a serious reporter people should not be able to identify your political views through your writing

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Fascinating read

Well researched and a sad tell of greed and corruption in politics and the drug industry. Kudos to the dogged reporting of Mr. Eyre.

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Excellent reporting

This book encompasses year of interviews, digging through records, and determination to find the truth about the opioid crisis in Appalachia, specifically southern West Virginia. Although the subject is complex it is written in a way that is easy to understand.

Eric Eyer is a superb reporter who gives the reader a non fiction story that’s a how and who dunnit.

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What a blockbuster story!

This book will grip you form the first paragraph and never let go. It's no wonder Eric Eyre won the Pulitzer Prize for these stories exposing the opioid pharmaceutical companies. Some of the stories are tragic, some will make you think about them for many days after you finish the book.
The narrator is spot on and helps to keep the grip on you as he tells the tale.
Highly recommended!