According to the CDC, from 1999-2018, nearly 450,000 people have died from opioid overdoses. While illicit opioids such as heroin have indeed been behind many overdoses, a large chunk of them stem from prescribed opioids. West Virginia is an example of a state whose opioid crisis is spiraling out of control. In August, West Virginia’s attorney general Patrick Morrisey filed lawsuits claiming that Walmart and CVS contributed to the state’s growing opioid epidemic. Morrisey is requesting that both companies remediate their actions that led to the public health crisis caused by pervasive opioid use.
One of the critical claims in these lawsuits is that Walmart and CVS repeatedly filled suspicious opioid orders. The orders that they filled were suspicious in both size and frequency. According to the suits, it was the duty of both companies to halt any questionable prescriptions. The companies’ failure to monitor these orders has directly contributed to the national and state-wide opioid epidemic. On top of filling the suspicious orders, both companies ordered additional supplies from other distributors to fill the orders. In his statement to the press, Morrisey stated, “We must hold everyone accountable for the roles they played in the opioid epidemic and continue to push toward solutions that go after the root cause of the problem.”
Walmart has not answered any questions about the lawsuit in West Virginia; however, CVS has. The company denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the company never distributed any Schedule II controlled substances. According to a CVS spokesperson, “the state of West Virginia’s complaint against us is misguided. Opioids are made and marketed by drug manufacturers, not pharmacies. We dispense opioid prescriptions written by a licensed physician for a legitimate medical need.”
West Virginia is not the only state looking to pharmacies as key contributors to their opioid epidemic. More than 3000 states, local governments, and Native American tribes have sued manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies, for their roles in the opioid crisis.
However, the pharmacy chains are not taking this lying down. A coalition of pharmacy chains is now claiming that physicians who prescribed the drugs are responsible for the epidemic. According to the pharmacies, they are merely filling the prescriptions the physicians prescribed their patients. The pharmacy chains made these claims ahead of a federal trial set to take place in October. This trial has the goal of settling a large number of the numerous national opioid lawsuits.
At Reynolds & Reynolds, we hope that these lawsuits hold the appropriate parties accountable for their role in our nation’s devastating opioid epidemic. For more information on our practice, or to speak to our dedicated attorneys, please contact Reynolds & Reynolds today!