Aug 17, 2022 - Health

CVS, Walgreens, Walmart to pay $650 million in Ohio opioids case

CVS pharmacy

Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered three of the country's largest pharmacy chains — CVS, Walgreens and Walmart — to pay $650 million to two Ohio counties, claiming the way they distributed opioids to customers caused severe harm to communities and created a public nuisance, AP reports.

Why it matters: It is the first ruling by a federal judge that assigns a set money figure against the pharmacy chains for their role in the opioid crisis, and could set a precedent for other local governments that seek to hold pharmacies accountable.

  • U.S. District Judge Dan Polster said in the ruling that the money will be used to abate a continuing opioid crisis in Lake and Trumbull counties, outside Cleveland, per AP.
  • Attorneys for the counties put the total price tag at $3 billion for the damage done to the counties.

Details: According to the ruling, Lake County is to receive $306 million over 15 years, while Trumbull County is to receive $344 million over the same period.

  • The judge ordered the companies to immediately pay nearly $87 million to cover the first two years of the abatement plan.
  • He also ordered the companies to comply with a series of rules to ensure that they improve how they dispense opioids and spot potential problems.

What they're saying: “Today marks the start of a new day in our fight to end the opioid epidemic,” Lake County Commissioner John Hamercheck told AP in a statement.

  • Frank Fuda, Trumbull County Commissioner, praised the ruling in a statement, saying “the harms caused by this devastating epidemic” can now be addressed.

What's next: CVS, Walmart and Walgreens disagreed with the court decision, and said they will appeal the ruling.

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