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Large U.S. drugstore chains held responsible for opioid crisis by Ohio jury: NPR


Oxycodone pills. An Ohio jury said Tuesday that major drug chains were responsible for helping fuel the opioid crisis.

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Large U.S. drugstore chains held responsible for opioid crisis by Ohio jury: NPR

Oxycodone pills. An Ohio jury said Tuesday that major drug chains were responsible for helping fuel the opioid crisis.

Marie Hickman / Getty Images

A federal jury said Tuesday that three of the nation’s largest drugstore chains, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, were responsible for helping fuel the opioid crisis in the United States.

Jurors concluded that pharmacies were contributing to a so-called public nuisance in Lake and Trumbull counties in Ohio by selling and dispensing huge amounts of prescription pain relievers.

Some of these drugs that were originally purchased legally ended up being sold on the black market.

Tuesday’s verdict is expected to resonate nationally, as all three chains face thousands of similar lawsuits filed by U.S. communities grappling with the opioid crisis.

A separate legal process will now take place to determine how much companies will have to pay to help alleviate the crisis, with damages likely to run into the billions of dollars.

In a statement, lawyers for the Ohio counties who filed the federal lawsuit called the jury’s decision a “decisive victory” in an effort to hold companies accountable for a drug crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands. of people.

“For decades, drugstore chains watched the pills that came out of their doors cause damage and failed to take action required by federal law,” the attorneys said.

The leaders of drugstore chains have long argued that they did nothing wrong and that they only distribute the pills after the prescriptions were written by licensed health care providers.

In a statement sent to NPR, a CVS spokesperson promised a call. “We strongly disagree with the decision,” the statement said. “Pharmacists fill legal prescriptions written by DEA-licensed physicians who prescribe legal and FDA-approved substances to treat real patients in need.”

In a separate statement to NPR from Walgreens, a spokesperson called the verdict disappointing. “The facts and the law do not support the verdict. We believe the trial court made significant legal errors in allowing the case to go to a jury,” he said.

This federal verdict comes at a time when efforts by state courts to hold companies accountable for the opioid crisis face major legal hurdles.

Earlier this month, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court overturned a judgment against drug maker Johnson & Johnson valued at approximately $ 460 million, based on the same legal argument of ” public nuisance ”.

A California state judge has also refused to hold drug companies accountable for any role causing the opioid crisis in communities in that state.

Opioid lawsuits continue to advance in other locations in the United States, including New York and Washington state.

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