Opioid crisis in the United States: Walmart, Walgreens and CVS ordered to pay 650.6 million dollars

An unprecedented fine. Walmart, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies were ordered Wednesday, August 17 by a judge in Ohio, in the northern United States, to pay $ 650.6 million to Lake and Trumbull counties for their role in the crisis opiates, the Lanier Law Firm said in a statement.

The sum will “fund education and prevention programs and reimburse agencies and organizations for costs incurred in managing the crisis”, added the law firm. Walmart announced in a statement its intention to appeal, denouncing a lawsuit “riddled with legal and factual errors”.

More than 500,000 overdose deaths in 20 years

The three retail giants in the United States, which had massively distributed painkillers in these two counties, were found guilty in November. Lawyers in two counties in Ohio had managed to convince the jury that the massive presence of opiates was indeed a public nuisance and that pharmacies had participated in it by ignoring warning signs about suspicious prescriptions for years.

County officials “simply wanted to be compensated for the burden of a drug epidemic sustained by corporate greed, negligence and lack of accountability by these pharmaceutical chains”, commented their lawyer, Mark Lanier, quoted in the press release. For their part Pharmacy chains believe that pharmacists are only respecting legal prescriptions written by doctors, who prescribe substances approved by the health authorities.

It was the first time that drug distributors, and not producers, were held responsible for this health crisis, which has caused more than 500,000 overdose deaths in 20 years in the United States, and which has given rise to a myriad of procedures launched by local authorities.

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