Pharmacy chains face first trial over U.S. opioid epidemic

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Oct 4 (Reuters) – The primary trial of 4 massive pharmacy chains over the lethal U.S. opioid epidemic was set to start on Monday, as two Ohio counties search to persuade jurors the businesses are accountable for flooding their communities with addictive ache tablets.

The Ohio counties of Lake and Trumbull allege that oversight failures at pharmacies run by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc , CVS Well being Corp , Walmart Inc and Big Eagle Inc (GIAEG.UL) led to extreme quantities of opioid tablets flooding their communities.

Legal professionals for the counties and firms will ship opening statements to a federal jury in Cleveland, the place hundreds of comparable lawsuits towards pharmaceutical firms, drug distributors and pharmacies are pending.

Greater than 3,300 circumstances have been introduced largely by state and native governments looking for to carry the businesses accountable for an opioid abuse epidemic that U.S. authorities information exhibits led to almost 500,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2019.

The pharmacy operators deny wrongdoing. CVS mentioned its pharmacies “fill authentic prescriptions written by licensed medical doctors.”

Walgreens mentioned it took delight within the judgment of its pharmacists, and Big Eagle mentioned pharmacy inspectors concluded it complied with the regulation. Walmart didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Ought to a jury discover the businesses liable, U.S. District Decide Dan Polster will decide how a lot they have to pay to abate, or deal with, the well being disaster within the communities. He has urged the events to settle.

The trial comes after the three largest U.S. distributors that provide pharmacies – McKesson Corp , Cardinal Well being Inc and AmerisourceBergen Corp – and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson in July proposed paying as much as $26 billion to settle circumstances towards them.

A chapter choose in August authorized a settlement by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP and its rich Sackler household homeowners that the corporate values at greater than $10 billion.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston;
Enhancing by Noeleen Walder and Invoice Berkrot


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