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Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The Trump administration sued Walmart on Tuesday, accusing its pharmacies of not properly screening questionable painkiller prescriptions and filling them, ultimately fueling nationwide addiction.

Why it matters: The major retailer "knowingly filled thousands of controlled substance prescriptions that were not issued for legitimate medical purposes or in the usual course of medical practice," the Justice Department alleges.

The state of play: Walmart's network of 5,000 in-store pharmacies were turned into America's leading supplier of highly addictive painkillers, dating back to 2013, per the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news of the lawsuit.

  • “Rather than analyzing the refusal-to-fill reports, the compliance unit viewed ‘[d]riving sales and patient awareness’ as ‘a far better use of our Market Directors and Market Manager’s time,’” the Justice Department said, quoting a company compliance director.
  • “Given the nationwide scale of those violations, Walmart’s failures to follow basic legal rules helped fuel a national crisis.”

Background: In October, Walmart sued the federal government to counterattack the impending opioid-related civil lawsuit from the Justice Department.

The big picture: Drugmaker Purdue filed for bankruptcy last year in response to settling hundreds of lawsuits.

  • Johnson & Johnson and three drug distributors are in talks of a $26 billion settlement between several counties and states.
  • About 50,000 fatal opioid overdoses occurred in 2019, per federal data, a record high.

This post has been updated with more information from the Department of Justice.

Go deeper

Merrick Garland: Domestic terror is "still with us"

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In his first major speech, Attorney General Merrick Garland warned the nation Monday to remain vigilant against the rising threat of domestic extremism.

Why it matters: Domestic terrorism poses an "elevated threat" to the nation this year, according to U.S. intelligence. Garland has already pledged to crack down on violence linked to white supremacists and right-wing militia groups.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

"Believe your eyes": Prosecutors make closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Steve Schleicher, an attorney for the prosecution in Derek Chauvin's trial, began closing arguments on Monday by describing in detail George Floyd's last moments — crying out for help and surrounded by strangers, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial, seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades, will reverberate across the country and have major implications in the fight for racial justice.