A federal jury found Tuesday that pharmacy chain operators CVS, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Walmart helped fuel an opioid epidemic in two Ohio counties, in the first trial the companies have faced the US drug crisis.
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Juries in Cleveland federal court concluded that the actions taken by the pharmacy chains helped to create a public nuisance that resulted in an oversupply of addictive pain pills and the transfer of those opioids to the black market.
Plaintiff’s lawyers confirmed the verdict. The jury only assessed liability. It’s up to U.S. District Judge Dan Pollster to decide how much companies must be owed to reduce or address public nuisance in Lake and Trumbull counties, Ohio.
They have possibly scheduled a trial on that question for May 9. Lawyers for the counties have said the cost is potentially $1 billion for each county.
The test was the first that any pharmacies had faced a pandemic, which US health officials say was nearly as of 2019. 500,000 opioid overdose deaths over the course of two decades.
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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday that drug overdoses killed more than 100,000 people during the 12-month period ending April 2021, a record high level driven in large part by deaths from opioids such as fentanyl. is on.
In the lawsuit, lawyers for Lake and Trumbull counties argued that the pharmacy failed to ensure that opioid prescriptions were legal and allowed excessive amounts of addictive pain pills to flood their communities.
The largest pharmacy operators in the US denied the allegations. He said he took steps to prevent diversion of pills and blamed doctors, regulators and drug smugglers, among others, for the pandemic.
The verdict in the Ohio lawsuit follows a recent setback for plaintiffs pursuing some of the other 3,300 opioid cases filed against drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies nationally.
Oklahoma’s top court reversed a $465 million ruling against drugmaker Johnson & Johnson on November 9, and this month a California judge ruled in favor of four drugmakers in a case brought by several large counties.
Other trials are underway in New York involving drugmakers Teva Pharmaceutical and AbbVie and the three largest US drug distributors in Washington state. New York announced a $26 billion deal with Johnson & Johnson in July.