Walmart sued by shareholders for opioid distribution practices

Two pension funds that own shares in Walmart filed a lawsuit against the company June 17, alleging that it knowingly allowed its pharmacies to illegally distribute opioids.

The lawsuit, which was filed by the Norfolk County (Mass.) Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System of Detroit, accuse Walmart of allowing a consistent flow of illegally prescribed opioids and using its political influence to thwart federal investigations into its operations. 

The court document also alleges that Walmart pharmacists were incentivized with bonuses for high opioid prescription volumes and trained on how to assure patients of the drugs' safety.

The filing comes as lawsuits emerge nationwide against retail pharmacies for their opioid distribution practices. The most salient one in recent weeks came from two bellwether Ohio counties that sued five major retail pharmacies, including Walmart, for flooding small communities with opioids.

"Walmart takes its responsibility to shareholders seriously. There is no credible basis to conclude Walmart or its board engaged in any misconduct. We will respond in court as appropriate," a representative of the retail giant said June 19 in a statement sent to Becker's.

Editor's note: This article was updated June 19, 2020 at 10:10 a.m. CST to include Walmart's statement.

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