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Did Pharmacies Contribute to the Opioid Epidemic?

Posted by John Hadden | Jan 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

You would have had to have been living under a rock to not know that the United States has been in the midst of a serious opioid epidemic for the last few decades. Perhaps you or someone you know and love has been a victim of opioid addiction and you know how devastating it can be.

The bad news is that millions of people have been affected by the opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control, sixty-eight percent of all drug overdoses in the United States in 2017 involved opioids. The good news is that we may be seeing the tide turn in the war on opioids: thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of opioids, doctors who prescribed them, and now major retail pharmacies that distributed the pills.

Major Pharmacies Subject of Latest Lawsuit

On Friday, January 3, 2020, a federal lawsuit was filed against many retail pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and Walmart. These retail pharmacies are accused of being complicit in the opioid epidemic by ignoring laws that mandate that they alert the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of suspicious orders. This lawsuit, which is expected to be the biggest civil trial ever, will probably go to trial in October 2020.

As one example of how bad pharmacies were contributing to the opioid crisis, a New York Times report described a Walgreens employee who was supposed to report suspicious drug orders to the DEA. She noticed that Walgreens was sending 3,271 bottles of oxycodone to its store in Port Richey, Florida. At the time, the town had a population of just 2,831 people. She wrote in an email to a colleague, “I don't know how they can even house this many bottles, to be honest.” But the next month, Walgreens sent another oversized order to the same store.

Superstores Pushed Generic Versions

The lawsuit also claims that superstores like Walmart and RiteAid did not flag the DEA over suspicious orders of generic pills. In Akron, Ohio, a gynecologist prescribed hundreds of thousands of generic pills such as Roxicet, Percocet, and Opana, all of which were filled at a RiteAid near his clinic. Eight of his patients overdosed and died. Instead of reporting the suspicious orders, RiteAid increased its orders of the drugs to keep up with demand.

Numbers Say It All

From 2006 to 2012, three-quarters of the 76 billion opioid pills that were out on the market were distributed by six retail pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. In that same timeframe, there were 100,000 prescription opioid deaths.

The Hadden Law Firm

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one due to an opioid overdose, you may have a claim against those responsible for wrongful death. The Hadden Law Firm is here to help. Call 404-939-4525 today or fill out a contact form to get started.

About the Author

John Hadden

John D. Hadden is the owner and founder of the Hadden Law Firm. An experienced trial and appellate lawyer, he is author of three respected treatises on Georgia litigation practice: Greens Georgia Law of Evidence, Georgia Law of Torts - Trial Preparation and Practice, and Georgia Magistrate Court...


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