jury concludes Walmart and others have contributed well to opioid crisis

Pharmacies at Walmart, Walgreens and CVS have played a role in the opioid crisis in two counties in Ohio by massively distributing painkillers, a jury in a federal court in that state ruled on Tuesday.

Members of the jury ruled that the three companies had acted illegally in filling important prescriptions for opiates without blinking in Lake and Trumbull counties, creating a “public nuisance“.

This is the first time that drug distributors, and not producers, have been held responsible for this crisis, which has caused more than 500,000 deaths from overdose in 20 years in the United States.

According to provisional figures from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) released last week, there were still 100,306 fatal overdoses in the country between April 2020 and April 2021.

It is up to a judge to determine the amount that each company will have to pay in reparation to the counties.

This verdict could encourage other plaintiffs to continue their legal actions as thousands of lawsuits have been initiated in the context of the opioid crisis, by individuals, local communities and states. Some parties have made agreements to end the lawsuits in exchange for financial payments.

The three companies have already expressed their intention to appeal, considering in particular that the legal theory around public nuisance was not appropriate in this case.

Pharmacists only fill legal prescriptions written by licensed doctors who prescribe substances approved by (health authorities) to treat patients in need.“, said a spokesperson for CVS.

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