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Major Pharma Chains Targeted In New Opioid Suit

Over the past several months, more and more lawsuits have been emerging regarding the country’s opioid crisis. Several manufacturers have been targeted, as have prominent doctors and medical organizations. Now the scope is getting even bigger, with legal action being threatened against major pharmaceutical chains like Walmart, CVS and Rite-Aid.

All of the aforementioned brands have been called out in a massive national lawsuit which aims to get restitution for the overdoses and fatalities tied to the crisis. In total, 2,000 cases are being brought up as part of this action; making it one of the largest civil cases in United States history.

What the plaintiffs want is several billion dollars in damages, all tied to the way these companies handled their prescription purchases. It is alleged that Walmart, CVS, Rite-Aid and others violated laws that require pharmacies to alert Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials of suspicious orders.

Walgreens is another company brought up in the suit. They were called out for multiple incidents, including a 2011 email that ordered 3,271 bottles of oxycodone within a small Florida town.

Some of Walmart’s accusations stem from the behavior of its employees. The suit claims that the retail giant “did not properly train” its pharmacy workers about the dangers of the opioid epidemic.

It is alleged in the suit that uneducated pharmacists played a crucial role in spreading the crisis. CVS has already spoken out to deny that claim. In a statement released to the press, company spokesperson Mike DeAngelis vehemently denied culpability; shifting more of the blame on the medical community.

“We maintain stringent policies, procedures and tools to help ensure that our pharmacists properly exercise their professional responsibility to evaluate controlled substance prescriptions before filling them,” DeAngelis explained. “Keep in mind that doctors have the primary responsibility to make sure the opioid prescriptions they write are for a legitimate purpose.”

Walmart too claims to have data that contradicts the accusations. In a statement prepared on behalf of that company, they argue that “Walmart distributed less than 1.3% of the opioids that were sent to the counties named in the suit.” They closed by emphasizing that their brand has been an industry leader in combating the crisis, which, as they put it, “is in the same communities where our pharmacists live and work.”

There is no doubt that strong legal arguments will be made on both sides. But regardless, it does appear this suit is going to trial and will be in front a judge within the next three months.