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Florida is suing CVS and Walgreens for allegedly adding to the opioid crisis

The suit claims the drugstore chains have not taken precautions to prevent illegal distribution
Florida sues CVS and Walgreens for allegedly adding to opioid crisis

Florida is suing CVS and Walgreens for allegedly overselling painkillers and not taking precautions to prevent illegal sales.

The suit, brought by the state’s Attorney General Pam Bondi on Friday, adds the nation’s largest drugstore chains to a lawsuit filed in May that names pharma distributor Endo Pharmaceuticals, the maker and seller of Percocet, and Purdue Pharma for overselling OxyContin, the notorious pain-killers of the opioid epidemic.


The state-court lawsuit, noting that opioids killed 5,725 Floridians in 2016 alone, argued that the chains have not taken precautions to prevent illegal distribution, and thereby have contributed to the opioid crisis. CVS sold 700 million opioid dosages between 2006 and 2014 and Walgreens distributed billions of painkillers in the state since 2006, according to the suit.

“Walgreens has violated its obligations under Florida law as both a large-scale distributor and a large-scale pharmacy to prevent abuse,” the suit said.

Walgreens paid $80 million in 2013 to resolve a federal investigation about its record-keeping of opioid sales, the suit noted. That same year, the chain distributed 2.2 million opioid tablets from its store in Hudson, a Tampa-area town of 12,000, and it sold 285,000 pills in a month in one unidentified town of 3,000.

Walgreens did not issue a response since the lawsuit is still pending, but CVS spokesperson Mike DeAngelis told the Associated Press that the suit is unfounded since the company trains its pharmacists and their assistants to detect potentially illegal sales.

“Over the past several years, CVS has taken numerous actions to strengthen our existing safeguards to help address the nation’s opioid epidemic,” DeAngelis said.

Florida is among more than 1,000 state and local governments across the U.S. currently suing opioid-makers and distributors. A federal judge in Cleveland said a test case regarding the opioid crisis should be brought to the Supreme Court next year.

Cover: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi gives a press conference Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Tampa, announcing that her office has filed a lawsuit against five large drug manufacturers and distributers of opioids. (Octavio Jones/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)