Jury holds pharmacies responsible in groundbreaking opioids case

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A federal jury said Tuesday that Walgreens, CVS and Walmart recklessly distributed pain pills in two Ohio counties and played a hand in hundreds of deaths plaguing the communities, AP. reports,

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why it matters: Per AP, this is the first decision for pharmacy companies in a case related to the opioid crisis. The verdict — with a judge set to rule on damages this spring — could set a precedent for other local governments that want to hold pharmacies accountable.

description: According to the AP, pharmacies distributed nearly 80 million prescription painkillers in Trumbull County between 2012 and 2016, or 400 for each resident.

  • About 61 million bullets were circulated in Lake County in the same time frame.
  • Lawyers for the three pharmacy giants argued that they had policies in place to reduce the distribution of pills and that doctors had the final say over prescriptions.
  • Counties counter that pharmacies were all to blame, but they contributed to the public health crisis, which taxed area courts, social services and law enforcement.
  • His lawyer said the flood of bullets cost the counties about $1 billion per AP.
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What are they saying: CVS Health spokesman Michael DeAngelis said in a statement that he “strongly disagrees” with the decision and will seek to appeal the decision.

  • ,[T]The simple fact is that opioid prescriptions are written by doctors, not pharmacists; Opioid drugs are made and marketed by manufacturers, not pharmacists; And our health care system relies on pharmacists to fill valid prescriptions that doctors deem necessary for their patients.”

Noteworthy: Several opioid manufacturers and drug distributors are facing criminal investigation from the Justice Department for similar concerns about the flow of prescription painkillers.

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