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A powerful painkiller helped fuel a Philly crisis; charges dropped in fatal, ‘horrific accident’ | Morning Newsletter

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Purdue Pharma's strongest pill, OxyContin 80-mg, dominated Philadelphia pharmacies — that is, until the drug was replaced with one that was harder to crush and snort. (smaller file for home page)
Purdue Pharma's strongest pill, OxyContin 80-mg, dominated Philadelphia pharmacies — that is, until the drug was replaced with one that was harder to crush and snort. (smaller file for home page)Read moreStaff Illustration (custom credit)

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

My colleagues analyzed drug records and found out the immense impact of Philadelphia’s abuse of a powerful painkiller — and how that has shaped the opioid crisis the city faces. After digesting that story, there a few lighter reads today that I definitely recommend. Among them is one where Santa Claus snowboards on sand dunes. And there’s another about a Central New Jersey distillery that sees its sales of a lesser-known whiskey boom every year, with almost all of the sales coming from Pennsylvania.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

A decade ago, opioid painkillers fueled a growing addiction crisis across the nation. And Philly stood out. The city was one of the most ravenous consumers of the most potent pill on the market. It was OxyContin’s 80-milligram payload of the drug oxycodone.

My colleagues analyzed Drug Enforcement Administration records that bring to light for the first time how much of the drug was being abused in Philadelphia and who was supplying it. The consequences are still being felt.

An attack that escalated to an hours-long shootout with law enforcement left six people dead Tuesday, including two suspects and a police officer. Yesterday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said he could not confirm speculation about the shooters’ motives. He said he would provide more information at a news conference today.

Philadelphia police have increased patrols at synagogues and other places of worship in the aftermath, CBS3 reported. And, The Inquirer spoke to a leader of a group with a strong Philly presence that appears to be linked to the shooting.

What you need to know today

  1. Charges have been dropped against an 18-year-old who fatally shot his twin brother this month. The District Attorney’s Office called it a “horrific accident.”

  2. A Philadelphia police sergeant who was caught on video punching a handcuffed man has been arrested.

  3. The Pennsylvania auditor general said yesterday that he wants the Berks County immigrant family detention center to close because taxpayers are spending $12 million a year to confine immigrants “who have done nothing wrong.”

  4. Democrats in Delco are accusing Republicans of punting on tax hikes now so that future hikes will be more likely when the Dems take over the County Council.

  5. One political pollster said Cory Booker is stuck “in the friend zone.” And the New Jersey senator will miss out on qualifying for the next Democratic debate.

  6. Here’s how a viral image of the Virgin Mary in handcuffs is humanizing the immigration debate.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

“Visiting Shane Confectionery, the old-school Old City candy shop, always feels like stepping into a real-life Willy Wonka chocolate factory,” writes my colleague Jenn Ladd. And after seeing @larraine’s photo, I totally agree. Great shot!

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!

That’s interesting

  1. 🚴 Our film critic reviews “the misunderstood short film otherwise known as the Peloton commercial.”

  2. 🌑 On 12/12 at 12:12 a.m., we had the last full moon of the year.

  3. 🚚 Could food trucks near Drexel get evicted from a busy section of Market Street? City Council will vote on a bill today.

  4. 🎄 Have you ever seen Santa snowboarding on sand dunes or in a lifeguard boat? That’s how the New Jersey Shore celebrates Christmas.

  5. 🥃 Every year, just after Thanksgiving, a distiller in Central New Jersey sees a boost in sales for one of its lesser-known products: Four Queens whiskey. It’s the main ingredient in a beloved drink found in Pennsylvania’s coal country.

  6. ⛪ A Philly charter school bought a church building. It now sits empty, with the school seeing it as a future gym and performing arts space. But it could be placed on the city’s Register of Historic Places, putting a wrench into the school’s renovation plans.


“Such an act of tyranny is what the Constitution was created to protect against. That is why this impeachment process is urgent and should move forward without delay.” — The Inquirer Editorial Board calls for President Donald Trump to be impeached.

  1. “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”? Writers debate what you should say.

  2. The Angry Grammarian writes for The Inquirer that jawn is dead and an overused cliche.

What we’re reading

  1. Billy Penn profiles the Hub of Hope in a corner of Suburban Station, where music brings holiday joy.

  2. The Washington Post reports that archaeologists in Indonesia say they discovered the oldest story ever told that’s depicted by artwork.

  3. Vice goes inside the world of forged art.

Your Daily Dose of | The UpSide

Firefighters know they can get a call at any time. And for two clergymen in Paoli, that could mean cutting their sermons short. “If I heard the siren go off during Mass, and I heard one engine leave and then a second engine leave, I’d speed things up a bit, cut that sermon short, and just get moving,” said a 63-year-old Catholic priest.