Pharmacy chains helped fuel opioid crisis, complaint alleges

A complaint filed by two Ohio counties in federal court in Cleveland on May 27 alleges five retail pharmacy chains facilitated the opioid crisis as distributors of the highly addictive drugs, according to The New York Times.

Lake and Trumbull counties were chosen as bellwether cases because of the incongruity between their small populations and the exorbitant amount of opioids dispensed. From 2006 to 2015, Trumbull County saw its 28 pharmacies sell almost 68 million doses to its population of 209,837, according to the filing.

The defendants are Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Rite Aid and HBC Giant Eagle. The court filing alleges these chains gave bonuses to pharmacists who dispensed a high volume of opioids and directly collaborated with drugmakers to encourage opioid use. 

The 200+ page complaint also alleges that the retail pharmacies failed to comply with Drug Enforcement Administration rules that require all instances of suspiciously large orders be reported.

The pharmacies could not immediately be reached for comment by The New York Times.

Read the complaint here

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