The opioid crisis is ravaging Americans. Suffering so many overdose deaths due to the abuse of opioids, our nation continues to wage war against the epidemic. It began, as described by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in the late 1990s. During that time, pharmaceutical companies pushed the prescriptions of opioid pain relievers on health care providers by assuring them the drugs were not addictive.
This resulted in an increased number of prescriptions of such drugs as oxycodone, hyrdocodone, morphine, fentanyl and methadone. These are the names most commonly associated with opioid-related deaths. As HHS reports, a 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 1.6 million people had an opioid use disorder over the previous year.
Walgreens is accused of contributing to Florida’s opioid crisis.
As reported by Dietrich Knauth for Reuters, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA.O) is now on trial for contributing to Florida's opioid addiction epidemic. Having begun this past Monday, the trial seeks to prove that the pharmacy chain abusively dispensed and distributed opioids in the Sunshine State. By doing so, Walgreens allowed the drugs to be used illegally, leading to increased addictions across the state.
“The pharmacy chain has argued it should be immune from the current litigation based on a mere $3,000 settlement reached with Florida in 2012 following an investigation into its record-keeping policies and efforts to prevent the diversion of opioid drugs,” reports Knauth, “Under the previously-announced settlements by Walgreens' prior co-defendants in the Florida trial, pharmacy chain rival CVS Health Corp (CVS.N) will pay $484 million.”
Florida regards the decade-old court transcripts as “absurd”. The previous deal only addressed a single record-keeping violation. The Associated Press, via U.S. News & World Report, reports that the current case against Walgreens accuses the company of having dispensed more than 4.3 billion total opioid pills in Florida between May 2006 and June 2021. More than half of the drugs dispensed contained one or more easily recognized red flags for abuse, fraud and addiction. Walgreens should have noticed and acted upon this.
Walgreens contends that it should be absolved of guilt.
“Walgreens attorney Steve Derringer told jurors they should focus on how manufacturers such as Purdue Pharma misled pharmacies on opioid addictive properties,” reveals the Associated Press article, “He also noted that Florida did little as the opioid epidemic arose, particularly the predatory ‘pill mills’ that proliferated in the state before a crackdown finally ended them.”
39,000 Floridians died from opioid abuse or related problems between 1999 and 2020. The case against Walgreens is that the pharmacy chain sold about a quarter of the opioids in Florida. As well, it did so under “questionable circumstances”, reports the Associated Press. Involvements with shady doctors, fake prescriptions and huge amounts of drugs dispensed in far excess of what was necessary for patients are all part of the concerns raised against the company.
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