(Reuters) – A Ohio state attorney general called on a federal jury on Monday to hold three major pharmacy chains responsible for inciting an opioid epidemic in their communities as the first lawsuit companies face over the drug crisis nears its end.  Mark Lanier, a lawyer for Lake and Trumbull counties, told a federal jury in Cleveland that a verdict in the case against CVS Health Corp., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Walmart Inc. would have consequences nationwide.
] "You get to decide what will be the most prominent case in pharmacy history," Lanier said in his concluding arguments.
The counties accused companies of creating a general nuisance in the form of the epidemic by failing to prevent excessive amounts of addictive painkillers from flooding their communities or identifying "red flags" of addiction.
"A pharmacy is not a chewing gum machine," said Mr. Lanier. "They have more responsibility than just taking your money and getting you your pills." Health officials say it has led to nearly 500,000 deaths from opioid overdoses over two decades.
or deal with, that. The county council's lawyers have said that the costs are potentially $ 1
The companies have denied the crime and have said that the blame lies with others, including doctors and state regulators. Their lawyers are expected to make a closing argument later on Monday.
The Ohio trial follows the latest setbacks for plaintiffs pursuing some of the 3,300 opioid lawsuits filed against drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies.
Oklahoma's Supreme Court last Tuesday overturned a $ 465 million lawsuit. verdict against drug maker Johnson & Johnson and a judge in California this month sentenced four drug manufacturers in a case brought by several major counties.
Those lawsuits also accused companies of creating a general nuisance. A similar lawsuit was filed by Washington state against three drug distributors on Monday.