Federal jury finds US pharmacy chains responsible for opioid epidemic

A US federal grand jury has found that CVS, Walgreens and Walmart contributed to a deadly opioid epidemic in two Ohio counties, a ruling that could set a precedent for thousands of legal cases. Pending for pharmacy chains.

Attorneys for Lake and Trumbull counties allege the chains run by the three companies failed to stop the sale of narcotic painkillers to residents, leading to hundreds of overdose deaths and causing the authorities spent 1 billion dollars.

The landmark case is the first time that pharmacy chains have been held liable after the end of the trial for contributing to opioid epidemic killed more than half a million Americans over two decades.

Thousands of similar legal cases are pending in the US, where state and local governments are seeking to recover tens of billions of dollars in health and social care costs related to the crisis.

In July, the states of the United States agreed to a level of 26 billion dollars settled with Johnson & Johnson and three of the largest drug distributors in the US – McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen – to address allegations that the companies contributed to the outbreak.

A grand jury on Tuesday found drugstore chains created a public nuisance in the way they dispensed opioids and rejected arguments that doctors and drugmakers were primarily to blame. crisis.

Judge Dan Polster, who is overseeing about 3,000 such cases, is expected to rule on how much drugstore chains must pay for damages following the jury’s verdict.

However, CVS, Walmart and Walgreens said they would appeal the ruling in a move that could lead to a protracted legal battle.

“Opioid prescriptions are written by doctors, not pharmacists; CVS says opioid drugs are made and marketed by manufacturers, not pharmacists.

Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court overturned a $465 million judgment against J&J, arguing that the district court that had heard the case earlier “mistakenly extended the nuisance statute.” public for the manufacture, marketing, and sale of prescription drugs”.

However, legal experts said the grand jury’s ruling against pharmacies could set a precedent, as courts across the United States consider similar cases.

“This grand jury decision could have a significant impact on many of the other cities and counties that are plaintiffs in [litigation], which Judge Polster is administering,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond law school.

“The ruling could also affect judges and juries hearing other opioid cases across the United States and suggests that the nuisance theory is viable.”

Attorneys for the Lake and Trumbull counties said the ruling represents “overdue calculation” of the complicity of Walmart, Walgreens and CVS in creating public nuisance.

The lawyers said in a statement: “For decades, pharmacy chains have watched as pills flowing out their doors cause harm and fail to take the action required by law. “Instead, these companies responded by opening more locations, flooding communities with drugs, and facilitating the influx of opioids into the secondary, illicit market.”

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