Pharmacy Chains Counter Allegations in Federal Opioid Lawsuit

January 9, 2020

In a new lawsuit, CVS, Walgreen, Rite Aid, and other major pharmacy chains said that they are not to blame in federal opioid litigation

In a new lawsuit, CVS, Walgreen, Rite Aid, and other major pharmacy chains said that they are not to blame in federal opioid litigation. Instead, physicians, identified only as “John and Jane Does 1-500”, are responsible for prescribing opioids that led to abuse, the complaint filed in Ohio federal court states.

The drugstore chains face a trial in Ohio this October in the sweeping opioid lawsuits, referred to as the National Prescription Opiate Litigation. Cuyahoga and Summit counties in Ohio sued the major drug chains in 2018, alleging they failed to halt diversion of prescription narcotics to the black market as they distributed drugs to their own stores, The Washington Post reported.

Last year, multiple drug manufacturers and distributors agreed to pay multiple settlements worth hundreds of millions of dollars in opioid litigation.

In the new legal document, the pharmacy retailers said that, if they are found liable in the October trial, prescribers should have to pay some of the penalty. ”Although Summit County says that prescriptions written by the Prescriber Defendants are to blame for the opioids crisis in Summit County, it asserts liability against only the Summit County Pharmacy Chains and, somehow, not the Prescriber Defendants themselves,” CVS Pharmacy, Walmart, Walgreens, Giant Eagle, and Rite Aid stated in the third party complaint.

“This complaint is required to respond to the unsubstantiated allegations by Plaintiffs that pharmacists should not have filled prescriptions, written by doctors, for FDA-approved opioid medications,” Walgreens Spokesman Phil Caruso said in a statement provided to Drug Topics®. “We strongly believe that the overwhelming majority of prescriptions dispensed were properly prescribed by doctors to meet the legitimate needs of their patients,” he added.

In TheWashington Post article, the municipalities suing the chains said that the origins of the opioid crisis “and the fuel that spread the epidemic can be traced back to the behavior and practices of corporations in the drug supply chain. Without widespread wrongdoing by the opioid industry-including pharmacies-we would not be in the place we are today.”

The government officials “broadly contend that the prescriptions were not legitimate and should not have been dispensed by our pharmacists,” in their lawsuit, Caruso said. “Walgreens never manufactured, prescribed or marketed an opioid. The Plaintiffs chose not to add pill mills, pain doctors, independent and internet pharmacies that fueled the opioid crisis to this litigation.”

References:

Berrnstein L. Major drugstore chains sue doctors in sprawling federal opioid case. The Washington Post. Published January 8, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/major-drugstore-chains-sue-doctors-in-sprawling-federal-opioid-case/2020/01/07/3ac9cd70-317d-11ea-9313-6cba89b1b9fb_story.html.