West Virginia sues CVS, Walmart for aiding opioid epidemic
West Virginia’s attorney general filed lawsuits Tuesday against Walmart and CVS, alleging the companies helped create the state’s devastating opioid epidemic.
Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, said in separate lawsuits that the companies should remediate what has become a public health and financial crisis.
The companies “reaped billions of dollars in revenues while causing immense harm to the State of West Virginia and its residents,” the lawsuits said.
The lawsuits allege Walmart and CVS filled suspicious orders of opioids that were of unusual size and frequency and then distributed those drugs to retail pharmacies.
The companies had an obligation to halt suspicious orders to their retail pharmacies but failed to monitor for and report them, the lawsuits claim.
The lawsuits also claim the companies ordered additional pills from other distributors to fulfill demand.
“We must hold everyone accountable for the roles they played in the opioid epidemic and continue to push toward solutions that go after the root cause of the problem,” Morrisey said in a statement.
More than 3,000 states, local governments and Native American tribes have sued manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies, blaming them for contributing to the opioid epidemic.
West Virginia’s complaints do not assert claims related to either company’s role in dispensing opioids to patients but maintain that such retail data offered Walmart and CVS unique knowledge and notice that their operations were meeting more than a legitimate market demand.
West Virginia filed similar lawsuits in June against Rite-Aid and Walgreens.
Walmart and CVS were both among the state’s top 10 opioid distributors from 2006 to 2014.
Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement to The Hill, CVS denied any wrongdoing.
A spokesman said the company never distributed Schedule II controlled substances, which are the opioids determined by the Drug Enforcement Administration to carry the highest potential for abuse.
“We believe the State of West Virginia’s complaint against us is misguided. Opioids are made and marketed by drug manufacturers, not pharmacies. We dispense opioid prescriptions written by a licensed physician for a legitimate medical need,” the spokesman said.
“We intend to defend the company against the allegations in the complaint,” the spokesman added.
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