MPA | Pharmacy News

Some of the nation's top pharmacy brands are preparing to defend themselves in court against claims that they drove the opioid epidemic by turning a blind eye to the flow of opioids into the black market.

The legal drama will play out in Ohio, where the first federal trial of this nature ended in 2019 with McKesson, Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health, and Teva Pharmaceuticals agreeing to a $260 million settlement with Cuyahoga and Summit counties. Now, Lake and Trumbull counties will square off against CVS, Walgreens, Giant Eagle, and Walmart.

Mass quantities of opioid analgesics were shipped to the area—far more than medically necessary, according to the jurisdictions—and the pharmacies continued to dispense the drugs despite the presence of what critics say were red flags. The defendants counter that they simply performed their responsibility of filling prescriptions and did not break the law.

"When it comes to controlled substances," Walgreens attorney wrote, "pharmacists take the appropriate steps under the circumstances of each prescription to guard against filling illegitimate prescriptions, while still working to make sure that patients suffering in real pain are able to obtain the medications their doctors have prescribed."

The trial begins today and is expected to last 7 weeks.

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