Ohio grand jury finds pharmaceutical chain responsible in drug case

Civil case, brought in federal court against CVS (CVS), Walmart (WMT) and Walgreens, marking the first time that pharmacies have been found to be the cause of a nationwide outbreak.

“It’s a case that has precedent,” Mark Lanier, lead attorney for the Lake County and Trumbull County trial, told CNN Tuesday.

Damages will be adjudicated in the spring. Lanier said that each county would seek more than $1 billion in damages. Together, the counties represent about 440,000 Ohioans, according to court documents.

The lawsuit, originally filed in 2018, is part of a federal federal lawsuit created that year to address diverse claims against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The counties allege that the pharmacies had “abused their position of trust and special responsibility” as registered controlled drug dispensing facilities, and were thus “cheating on the market” black market for prescription drugs.”

Fast facts on the drug crisis

“Prescription drug factories and fake prescribers cannot distribute opioids for illicit use without the tacit assistance and willfully blinding Defendant, if not the support their understanding,” the complaint reads.

In statements to CNN on Tuesday, all three drug chains said they would appeal the ruling.

“We are disappointed with the outcome of this trial. The facts and the law do not support the verdict. We believe the trial court made serious legal errors by letting the case go to trial. jury on a flawed legal theory that doesn’t fit Ohio,” Fraser Engerman, a spokesman for Walgreens, told CNN.

Engerman added: “As we have said throughout this process, we never manufactured or marketed opioids nor distributed them to the ‘pill factories’ and internet pharmacies that caused the disproportionation of this problem. out this crisis.”

In a statement, Walmart criticized the trial as “fraught with notable legal and factual errors.”

“The plaintiffs’ attorneys sued Walmart seeking deep losses while ignoring the real causes of the opioid crisis — such as drug factory doctors, illegal drugs, and regulators. dozed off — and they falsely stated that pharmacists must guess doctors differently The law was never intended, and many federal and state health regulators say it would interfere with the doctor’s relationship. doctor-patient,” a Walmart statement said. “As the pharmaceutical industry leader in the fight against the opioid crisis, Walmart is proud of our pharmacists, who are dedicated to helping patients in the face of a tangled web of causes. federal and state opioid rules.”

CVS also defended its pharmacists in a statement.

CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said: “We strongly disagree with this decision. “Legal prescription pharmacists are written by DEA-licensed physicians to prescribe legal, FDA-approved substances to treat patients who really need them.”

“We are proud of the substantial work we have done to assist our pharmacists in detecting illegal prescribing,” he continued. “But the simple truth is that opioid prescriptions are written by doctors, not pharmacists; opioid drugs are made and marketed by manufacturers, not pharmacists; and their healthcare system I depend on pharmacists to legally prescribe what doctors deem necessary for their patients.”

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The ruling is good news for officials in Lake and Trumbull counties, where the damages are expected to fund opioid addiction measures.

“Today’s ruling means a lot to Lake County, because it’s an important step forward for a real cure during this epidemic,” Lake County Commissioner John Plecnik told CNN. “On behalf of all the families in Lake County, we thank the jury for sending a strong message to reprimand those responsible for the over-selling of opioids.”

The Oklahoma Supreme Court overturned the court's decision to Johnson & amp;  Johnson pays $465 million to state for his role in the opioid crisis

“This ruling will also mean greater resources to combat opioid addiction, which is much-needed,” Plecnik said. “I can’t say this strongly enough, no one is immune to the effects of addiction and opioid abuse, and this is not just a victory for Lake and Trumbull but a victory for all Americans. “

“Indeed, in Lake County, we haven’t had a corner of the county that hasn’t been impacted by this outbreak,” said Kim Frasier, Lake County’s head of Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Services. , said in a press release Tuesday afternoon. conference. “This verdict gives a voice to the individuals and families who have been deeply traumatized.”

April Caraway, head of Trumbull County’s Mental Health and Rehabilitation Division, echoed this view.

“We appreciate some vindication,” she said. “This is hard, but we want to do it for those who have lost it.”

Next step

Lanier told CNN that attorneys for both sides are still scheduling a damages phase during which Judge Dan Polster will set a dollar figure for damages suffered by Lake and Trumbull counties. . In the meantime, an appeal is expected to be conducted at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.


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