US Jury: Pharmacies Complicated in Opioid Crisis

Status: 11/24/2021 8:25 a.m.

500,000 deaths from opioid abuse in the USA: So far, the lawsuits have mainly been directed against US pharmaceutical companies – but now pharmacy chains have also been convicted. They would have sold the pills ruthlessly.

In a landmark case in the USA, three large pharmacy chains were found guilty of having contributed to the devastating opioid crisis by laxly dispensing addictive drugs. A jury in a federal court in Cleveland concluded that US retailers Walmart, CVS and Walgreens did not adequately control sales in the state of Ohio. The pharmacies ruthlessly distributed large quantities of painkillers.

Two districts in Ohio had sued. They are demanding billions of dollars in compensation from corporations for the cost of fighting opioid addiction and overdosing. Her lawyers argued that the pharmacies disregarded any evidence of suspiciously high sales of opioids. Some of the drugs later ended up on the black market.

400 painkillers per inhabitant in one year

In Trumbull County alone, around 80 million prescription pain relievers were sold between 2012 and 2016 – that’s 400 per inhabitant. About 61 million tablets were issued in Lake County during that period.

How much Walmart, CVS and Walgreens have to pay will be determined by a federal judge in the spring. There are numerous similar US lawsuits, so the process is considered an important guide.

Companies announce appointment

The companies denied complicity in the opioid crisis and announced an appeal. Measures have been taken to curb pill dispensing when pharmacists have concerns and authorities have been informed of suspicious orders from doctors. In addition, it was the treating doctors who prescribed the pills.

The chains Rite Aid and Giant Eagle had settled legal disputes with the two counties out of court.

Almost 500,000 dead in two decades

Opioids are partly synthetically produced drugs with, among other things, pain-relieving properties. However, they also harbor an enormous risk of dependency and a high potential for abuse.

The opioid epidemic has resulted in nearly half a million deaths in the United States over the past two decades, according to the CDC. Most US lawsuits are directed against manufacturers and wholesalers of pain relievers, but the operators of large pharmacy chains are now also under considerable legal pressure.

Opioid crisis: verdict against largest US drugstore chains

Torsten Teichmann, ARD Washington, 11/24/2021 8:24 am

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