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

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Oct 4 (Reuters) – The first trial of 4 giant 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 capsules.

The Ohio counties of Lake and Trumbull allege that oversight failures at pharmacies run by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (WBA.O), CVS Health Corp (CVS.N), Walmart Inc (WMT.N) and Giant Eagle Inc (GIAEG.UL) led to extreme quantities of opioid capsules flooding their communities.

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

More than 3,300 instances have been introduced largely by state and native governments in search of to carry the businesses accountable for an opioid abuse epidemic that U.S. authorities knowledge reveals led to almost 500,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2019.

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

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

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

The trial comes after the three largest U.S. distributors that provide pharmacies – McKesson Corp (MCK.N), Cardinal Health Inc (CAH.N) and AmerisourceBergen Corp (ABC.N) – and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) in July proposed paying as much as $26 billion to settle instances in opposition to them. learn extra

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

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston;
Editing by Noeleen Walder and Bill Berkrot

Tablets of the opioid-based Hydrocodone at a pharmacy in Portsmouth, Ohio, June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

A Walgreens store is seen in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. February 11, 2021.  REUTERS/Eileen T. Meslar

Tablets of the opioid-based Hydrocodone at a pharmacy in Portsmouth, Ohio, June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston