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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Walgreens handled nearly one in five oxycodone and hydrocodone pills that were shipped to pharmacies between 2006 and 2012, as the opioid epidemic worsened, the Washington Post reports.

Between the lines: Walgreens is one of the companies being sued by thousands of communities across the country in federal court.

  • Unlike major drug distributors and manufacturers also being sued, it did not settle with two bellwether counties last month, and is scheduled to go to trial next year.

By the numbers: Walgreens — which bought the vast majority of its pain pills directly from manufacturers, bypassing distributors — bought about 13 billion pills over this time period. Its purchases grew over time.

  • CVS, its closest competitor, bought 3 billion fewer pills.

Because it served as its own distributor, Walgreens was also responsible for alerting the DEA to suspicious orders by its own pharmacies.

  • "Instead, about 2,400 cities and counties nationwide allege that Walgreens failed to report signs of diversion and incentivized pharmacists with bonuses to fill more prescriptions of highly addictive opioids," WashPost writes.

The bottom line: The opioid epidemic's roots run deep into the health care system, revealing profit-seeking behavior throughout the industry — which had deadly consequences.

  • The jury's still out as to whether it was illegal behavior and whether the companies involved should have to pay for the damage.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Amanda Gorman steals the show on Inauguration Day

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Axios Visuals

Poet Amanda Gorman by far generated the most average interactions on social media on Inauguration Day, according to exclusive data from NewsWhip.

Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategy

Biden signs executive orders on Jan. 21. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday signed a slew of executive orders to address the coronavirus pandemic, including an interstate face mask mandate and an order to renew supplies of PPE, testing materials and vaccines through the Defense Production Act.

Why it matters: The stakes are highest for Biden’s vaccination effort. Several states cannot keep up with demand.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.