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CVS, Walgreens And Walmart Ordered To Pay $650 Million In Ohio Opioid Case

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A federal judge ordered CVS, Walgreens and Walmart to pay a collective $650.5 million to 2 counties in Ohio for his or her part fueling the opioid crisis within the state, a landmark ruling that lays partial blame for the epidemic on pharmacies that supplied the drugs.

U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster said the penalty have to be paid over the subsequent 15 years, the primary ruling that hands down a large monetary figure against pharmacy chains. The ruling got here after a federal jury found last November that the three chains had substantially contributed to the opioid crisis, turning a blind eye to the burgeoning epidemic of abuse and dishing out pain medication without considering red flags.

The cash will likely be used to handle the continued opioid epidemic in Ohio’s Lake and Trumbull counties, near Cleveland. Lake County will receive about $306 million and Trumbull $344 million. The businesses can even be required to extend their monitoring and reporting rules for opioid prescriptions.

Mark Lanier, a lawyer for the plaintiffs within the case, presented expert testimony that the 2 counties would wish greater than $3 billion to handle the opioid crisis. The judge, nevertheless, said the pharmacies were just one in every of three major components that needed to be held accountable, the others being the drug manufacturers and drug distributors.

The $650.5 million figure represents a couple of third of that $3 billion, the judge said.

“These corporations are rending the material of society apart,” Lanier told The Latest York Times on Wednesday. “They shouldn’t only show remorse, they need to show they should rectify what they’ve done. And so they won’t do it. So the judge is doing it.”

About 80 million prescription painkillers were disbursed by pharmacies in Trumbull County from 2012 to 2016, The Associated Press added, about 400 for each resident.

Polster said in his ruling Wednesday that the pharmacies had “largely ignored” orders that they submit proposals to handle what damages they thought they could owe. The businesses, the judge added, “squandered the chance to present a meaningful plan to abate the nuisance.”

The three pharmacy giants said they planned to appeal the ruling.

“As an alternative of addressing the actual causes of the opioid crisis, like pill mill doctors, illegal drugs and regulators asleep on the switch, plaintiffs’ lawyers wrongly claimed that pharmacists must second-guess doctors in a way the law never intended and plenty of federal and state health regulators say interferes with the doctor-patient relationship,” Walmart said in a statement.

The choice is the newest court ruling against corporations at the highest of the opioid crisis and reflects the growing legal challenges for individuals who were linked to the epidemic.

Purdue Pharma’s Sackler family agreed to pay as much as $6 billion in March as a part of a sweeping settlement with just about all U.S. states and hundreds of local governments for its role in selling and marketing OxyContin. Teva Pharmaceuticals, one in every of the country’s biggest manufacturers of generic opioids, also reached a $4.25 billion settlement last month with hundreds of local governments, states and tribal regions for its role within the crisis.

Greater than half 1,000,000 Americans have died from opioid-related causes since 1999, and nearly 75% of all drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid, in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overdose deaths rose to record levels in 2021, linked heavily to the worsening fentanyl crisis.

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