The combination photo shows a logo of CVS in Manhattan, New York, U.S., August 1, 2016, re-usable Walmart bags in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago September 21, 2011 and a Walgreens sign in the Chicago suburb of Niles, Illinois, February 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/Jim Young/File Photo

Landmark opioid trial of 3 major pharmacy chains nears its end

CLEVELAND, Nov 15 (Reuters) – A lawyer for 2 Ohio counties urged a federal jury on Monday to carry three major pharmacy chains chargeable for fueling an opioid epidemic of their communities as the primary trial the businesses have confronted over the drug disaster neared its end.

Mark Lanier, a lawyer for Lake and Trumbull counties, informed a federal jury in Cleveland {that a} verdict within the case in opposition to CVS Well being Corp (CVS.N), Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (WBA.O) and Walmart Inc (WMT.N) would have ramifications all throughout the nation.

“You get to decide what will be the most seminal case in pharmacy history,” Lanier stated in his closing arguments.

The counties accused the businesses of making a public nuisance within the kind of the epidemic by failing to stop extreme quantities of addictive ache drugs from flooding their communities or establish “red flags” of misuse.

Lanier stated the pharmacies generally stuffed prescriptions for a 12 months’s price of ache drugs at a time and that their screening insurance policies for a time had been “porous beyond all description.”

Communities had been “devastated” by their flood of opioids they didn’t cease, he stated.

“A pharmacy is not a gum ball machine,” Lanier stated. “They have more responsibility than simply taking your money and getting you your pills.”

The businesses have denied wrongdoing and stated the blame falls on others, together with medical doctors and authorities regulators. Their legal professionals are anticipated to ship closing arguments in a while Monday.

Brian Swanson, a lawyer for Walgreens, stated it had red-flag insurance policies since 1997 and stored bettering them. He famous the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration by no means as soon as moved to droop any of pharmacies’ registrations within the two counties.

“A company that’s constantly updating and improving its policies is not a company acting intentionally to cause an opioid crisis,” he informed jurors.


The trial is the primary the pharmacy chains have confronted in 1000’s of lawsuits by states and native governments searching for to carry them chargeable for an epidemic that U.S. well being officers say has led to just about 500,000 opioid overdose deaths over 20 years.

Ought to the jurors discover the pharmacies created a public nuisance, U.S. District Decide Dan Polster would resolve how a lot they owe to abate, or deal with, it. The counties’ legal professionals have stated the prices are doubtlessly $1 billion for every county.

The Ohio trial follows current setbacks for plaintiffs pursuing some of the 3,300 opioid circumstances filed in opposition to drug producers, distributors and pharmacies.

Oklahoma’s prime court docket final Tuesday overturned a $465 million judgment in opposition to drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, and a California choose this month dominated in favor of 4 drugmakers in a case introduced by a number of massive counties.

These lawsuits additionally accused the businesses of making a public nuisance. The same lawsuit by Washington state in opposition to three drug distributors additionally heads to trial on Monday. learn extra

Reporting by Grant Segall in Cleveland and Nate Raymond in Boston; Enhancing by Will Dunham, Noeleen Walder, Aurora Ellis and Dan Grebler

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.