Find us @


Pharmacies are legal trouble because of the opioid epidemic

Major pharmacy chains that operate in the United States are being sued for fueling the opioid epidemic.



The defendants in lawsuits against large pharmacy chains claim that they are responsible for the American opioid epidemic.

The retail sector of the pharmaceutical industry has never before been held responsible for its involvement in the opioid epidemic, but on Wednesday a federal judge in Cleveland ordered CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart to pay $650 million in damages to two Ohio counties.


In response to lawsuits, other drug manufacturers and distributors have either settled or declared bankruptcy. Endo International joined other pharmaceutical companies this month in declaring bankruptcy to end legal disputes around their alleged involvement in the opioid epidemic.

For their roles in the crisis, drugmakers, distributors, and pharmacy chains have all been the targets of more than 3,000 lawsuits. Companies have spent over $47 billion on settlements, verdicts, and civil and criminal fines, according to the Associated Press.

One of the main organizations that have been criticized is pharmacy chain stores. According to federal law, pharmacies are required to determine whether prescriptions for prohibited substances are written for a valid medical reason and are being filled in the normal course of the prescriber’s professional activity.

In the Ohio complaint, attorneys calculated that between 2012 and 2016, the pharmacy chains delivered almost 80 million prescription painkillers in Trumbull County, or about 400 tablets for each inhabitant, according to Politico.

Attorney General John Formella of New Hampshire filed a separate complaint last month alleging that multiple pharmacy chains, including CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, were complicit in the opioid epidemic by disregarded warning signs.

According to the state’s lawsuit, “Defendants are placed in a position of extraordinary trust and responsibility as registered distributors and dispensers of controlled substances and are uniquely positioned, based on their knowledge of prescribers and orders, to operate as the key, last line of defense.” Instead, the defendants “abused their position of special trust and duty inside the closed system of opioid distribution and dispensing and promoted a black market for prescription opioids.”

In response to accusations that they are at fault, pharmacy chains have argued that it is the doctors who are overprescribing the prescriptions who should be held accountable.

“Plaintiffs’ lawyers wrongly claimed that pharmacists must second-guess doctors in a way the law never intended and many federal and state health regulators say interferes with the doctor-patient relationship,” Walmart said in a statement on Wednesday. “Instead of addressing the real causes of the opioid crisis, like pill mill doctors, illegal drugs, and regulators asleep at the switch, plaintiffs’ lawyers falsely claimed that pharmacies must do so.


The CDC reports that between 1999 and 2019, approximately 500,000 people have passed away from an opioid overdose.

Examiner in Washington Videos Tags: Pharmaceutical Industry, News, Opioid Abuse, Health

Author at first: Abigail Adcox

Why pharmacies, not only drug manufacturers, are in legal danger because of the opioid epidemic, original source