Walmart, Walgreens and CVS Found Responsible in Opioid Crisis

Walmart, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies helped expand the so-called “opioid crisis” that caused fatal overdoses in more than 100,000 people in two counties in the state of Ohio, in the United States.

They did so by distributing painkillers in a massive way, a judge of a court in that country determined this Wednesday, November 24.

The three companies, according to the ruling, acted illegally by selling large quantities of opiates in Lake and Trumbell counties.

This generated what the judge says was an “excess supply” of this class of drugs and “public nuisance.”

The case is very important because it sets a precedent: it is the first time that drug distributors, rather than their manufacturers, have been found guilty of this public health crisis, which caused more than half a million deaths in the United States in the last 20 years.

Between the months of March 2020 and April 2021, there were 100,306 fatal overdoses in the United States, according to the first data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the judge says in the ruling that he will evaluate the sanctions for the case, the three companies published statements saying that they will appeal, says The Wall Street Journal.

The decision could be serious for Walmart, Walgreens and CVS, as it would generate new lawsuits.

Earlier, the pharmacy chains Rite Aid and Giant Eagle reached an out-of-court settlement with Ohio counties, but Walmart, Walgreens and CVS decided to advance the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs did not win every litigation they started. It emerged last month that two lawsuits against opiate producers failed in California and Oklahoma.

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Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS Found Responsible in the Opioid Crisis (1)

In fact, the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed a $ 450 million judgment against Johnson & Johnson, concluding that a trial court should not have relied on the so-called “public nuisance law.”

In a statement, Lake County celebrated the verdict, saying that between 2012 and 2016, 265 opiate pills per capita were sold in that district alone.

The companies argued that they had tried to prevent the pills from being illegally delivered and that they followed procedures required by federal and state regulators.

They said they weren’t to blame for the crisis and that the counties had not shown that pharmacies played a significant role.

In a statement, a group of lawyers for the victims said that “for decades, pharmacy chains have observed how the pills they sell cause harm and did not take any action.” “Instead, these companies responded by opening more outlets, flooding communities with pills, and facilitating the flow of opioids into an illegal secondary market.”