(Reuters) – The state of Tennessee sued Walgreens on Wednesday, accusing the pharmacy giant of fueling the state’s opioid epidemic by intentionally flooding the market with an oversupply of prescription narcotics in violation of consumer protection and public nuisance laws.
According to the lawsuit, Walgreens used its position as one of the state’s largest pharmacy chains to dispense more than 1.1 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills in Tennessee from 2006 to 2020, roughly equivalent to 175 pills for every state resident.
“The large amount of opioids released by Walgreens in Tennessee was unreasonable and highly suspicious on its face,” said the 148-page lawsuit filed in Knox County Circuit Court. “Walgreens completely saturated the state of Tennessee with drugs.”;
Walgreens has been the target of similar lawsuits brought by other jurisdictions.
In May, its parent company, Illinois-based holding company Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., reached a $683 million settlement with Florida to resolve claims that the pharmacy chain exacerbated an opioid epidemic in that state. Walgreens did not admit wrongdoing under the agreement
“We will continue to defend ourselves against the unwarranted attacks on the professionalism of our pharmacists, dedicated healthcare professionals who live in the communities they serve,” the company said in a statement sent to Reuters on Wednesday.
“Walgreens never manufactured or marketed opioids, nor did we distribute them to the pain clinics and ‘pill mills’ that fueled this crisis,” the company said.