Part of the blame for the opioid crisis: pharmacy chains are said to pay billions

Complicity in opioid crisis
Pharmacy chains are said to pay billions

A deadly opioid epidemic has raged in the United States for 20 years. Pharmacies play an inglorious role in the proliferation of addictive pain relievers. Now three large pharmaceutical chains are to pay compensation. A landmark judgment, because thousands of similar lawsuits are still pending.

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 pain reliever sales in the state of Ohio. The companies announced their appointment.

Two counties in Ohio had sued. They are demanding billions of dollars in compensation from corporations for the cost of fighting opioid addiction and overdosing. How much Walmart, CVS and Walgreens have to pay will be determined by a federal judge in the spring. The companies deny complicity in the opioid crisis. They claim to have sold pills prescribed by licensed doctors. There are over 3,300 similar US lawsuits, so the process is considered an important guide.

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. Opioids require a prescription. However, pharmacies are obliged to carry out a careful examination, and they have to officially report suspicious prescriptions. The plaintiffs argue that this has only happened inadequately with the accused. The pharmacy chains have also hired too few staff and not trained them accordingly.

The opioid epidemic in the United States has resulted in nearly half a million deaths in 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.

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