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US pharmacy chains ordered to pay $650 million to two Ohio counties in opioid lawsuit

A US federal judge has ordered the three largest US drugstore chains to pay $650 million in damages to two counties in Ohio for fueling an opioid crisis. The counties won a landmark lawsuit against national drugstore chains CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, claiming the distribution process caused severe harm to communities.

The money will be used to address the opioid crisis in Lake and Trumbull counties outside of Cleveland. County prosecutors had estimated damages to each of the counties at $1 billion. Lake County will receive $306 million over 15 years, while Trumbull County will receive $444 million. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster ordered the companies to pay nearly $87 million to cover the first two years.

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Polster criticized the three companies in the decision, saying they “wasted the opportunity to present a meaningful plan to reduce nuisance.”

The opioid crisis has overwhelmed the courts, social service agencies and law enforcement in Cleveland, Ohio, destroying families and resulting in the birth of babies born to drug-using mothers, Mark Lanier told jurors, county attorney.

Lake County Commissioner John Hamercheck said in a statement that the decision “marks the start of a new day in our fight to end the opioid crisis.”

The companies plan to appeal the judgment.

Walmart said in a statement that county attorneys “sued Walmart for deep pockets, and this judgment follows a lawsuit that was designed to favor plaintiffs’ attorneys and was riddled with legal and factual errors. outstanding. We will appeal.”

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Notably, the opioid crisis in the United States has become a huge problem with millions of people becoming addicted to opioid painkillers such as fentanyl and OxyContin over the past 20 years. Painkiller overdoses between 1999 and 2019 killed nearly half a million people.

Lawyers for chain pharmacies have always said they have policies to control the flow of pills if their pharmacists become suspicious. In addition, they informed the authorities of suspicious orders from doctors. They also said doctors were responsible for controlling the number of pills prescribed for legitimate medical needs and not their pharmacies.

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 2:34pm on Saturday August 27th, 2022