Judge Rules Walmart, CVS, And Walgreens Must Pay $650.6 Million

Federal Judge Rules Walmart, CVS, And Walgreens Must Pay $650.6 Million For Damages Related To Opioid Epidemic

Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens will be dishing out big bucks for contributing to the opioid epidemic in Ohio. According to CNN, a federal judge ruled that the companies must pay $650.6 million to two Ohio counties for damages related to the opioid crisis.

U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster ruled that over the next 15 years, approximately $306.2 million must be paid to Lake County, and roughly $344.4 million must be paid to Trumbull County. All three companies were liable for their hand in the counties’ opioid epidemic last November.

It’s been a long time coming with this suit. Reports show it was initially filed in 2018 and was part of the federal multi-district litigation created that year to address the manifold claims against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Lake and Trumbull County allege that the pharmacies “abused their position of special trust and responsibility” as registered dispensers of controlled drugs and, in so doing, “fostered a black market for prescription opioids,” the complaint reads.

Judge Polster wrote in his ruling that the awarded damages are meant to “address a small piece of a terrible and tenacious and escalating national tragedy.” He added:

“Even if the Court could wave a magic wand and forever remove any existing or future oversupply of legal prescription opioids and prevent all future diversion of legal prescription opioids into the illicit market, this conjuring would do nothing to reduce the nuisance that would continue to exist in Lake and Trumbull Counties — that is, the widespread prevalence of OUD [opioid use disorder] and opioid addiction.”

CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens Plan To Appeal Opioid Ruling

The companies are unhappy with the judgment, and a spokesperson for CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens said they plan to appeal the ruling. In a statement, Fraser Engerman, senior director of external relations for Walgreens, claim the judge’s ruling was not rooted in facts.

“The facts and the law did not support the jury verdict last fall, and they do not support the court’s decision now. As we have said throughout this process, we never manufactured or marketed opioids nor distributed them to the ‘pill mills’ and internet pharmacies that fueled this crisis.”

Ohio leaders in Trumbull and Lake Counties don’t seem to be bothered and plan to use the damages toward opioid abatement measures. Lake County Commissioner John Plecnik’s county is investing the $306.2 million awarded to them into tackling the impacts of the opioid crisis in their communities.



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