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Opioid crisis: Walmart and two pharmacy chains have to pay $650 million

2022-08-18T07:59:54.050Z

They are said to have fueled the addiction crisis with painkillers: A US federal court has sentenced dealers to a huge fine. They say the verdict ignores the “real causes”.



Overdose man and helper outside a Walgreens pharmacy (2017 photo)

Photo:

BRIAN SNYDER/ REUTERS

Supermarket giant Walmart and two pharmacy chains have been fined more than $650 million.

The reason is their role in the US opioid crisis.

A federal judge ordered Walmart, Walgreens and CVS to pay the money to two Ohio counties hard-hit by the opioid crisis, plaintiffs' attorneys said.

The money will allow Lake and Trumbull counties to "fund education and prevention programs and reimburse local government agencies and organizations for costs incurred in dealing with the crisis," the Lanier law firm said.

A grand jury in November 2021 found Walmart, Walgreens and CVS partly responsible for the opioid crisis in the two counties.

The companies have created an "oversupply" of opioid painkillers.

It was the first time that dealers and not manufacturers were held responsible.

Federal judge Dan Polster has now set a penalty of 650.6 million dollars (around 640 million euros).

»Intervention in the relationship between doctor and patient«

The retail giant Walmart, which also operates pharmacies in its supermarkets, announced an appeal against the fine.

Instead of addressing the "true causes of the opioid crisis," plaintiffs' attorneys falsely claimed that pharmacists must question physicians' decisions.

However, this is not provided for by the applicable law and also represents an inadmissible interference in the relationship between doctor and patient.

Over the past 20 years, more than half a million people have died from opioid overdoses in the United States.

This includes both prescribed painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin.

Many experts attribute the crisis to the overprescribing of opioid painkillers, which until the mid-1990s were reserved for the treatment of the seriously ill.

Manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacies are accused of aggressively advertising the drug and not responding to warning signs of the addiction crisis.

The opioid crisis has led to a nationwide wave of lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies.

In many cases, settlements have been reached.

mamk/AFP

Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2022-08-18

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