Daily US Times: This week, some of the biggest pharmacies in America have gone on trial for the first time, accused of fuelling the country’s opioids epidemic.
Biggest pharmacy chains like CVS, Walmart, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Giant Eagle deny failing to stop excessive amounts of addictive prescription painkillers being sold in two Ohio counties.
If found liable, the pharmacies could face a wave of litigation and billions of dollars in compensation – not to mention serious reputational damage.
More than 3,300 similar cases have been brought, largely by local governments and US state.
The cases seek to hold the pharmacies responsible for an opioid epidemic that led to nearly 500,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2019.
Over the last few decades, millions of people in the US have become addicts through the over-prescription and abuse of legal opiate-based painkillers such as OxyContin.
It has put immense strain on public health and policing resources in towns and cities across the US.
Big pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy chains and doctors were accused of turning a blind eye to the problem, leading to criminal charges and billions of dollars in civil litigation.
Yet pharmacy operators haven’t faced action until now.
In this week’s trial, the Ohio counties of Lake and Trumbull allege that Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and Giant Eagle refused to give their pharmacists the necessary “tools and opportunities” to stop the “diversion and improper sale” of opiates.
The companies are also alleged to have ignored employee warnings about inadequate safeguards.