(Reuters) – A federal jury on Tuesday found that pharmacy chain operators CVS Health Corp., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Walmart Inc. helped incite an opioid epidemic in two Ohio counties, in the first lawsuit the companies have faced over U.S. Drug Crisis
After six days of deliberations, jurors in the Cleveland Federal Court concluded that action by pharmacy chains helped create a general nuisance that resulted in an oversupply of addictive painkillers and the diversion of these opioids to the black market.
The ruling, as confirmed by county attorneys, has the potential to give state and local governments a new influence in their efforts to negotiate settlements that would resolve the thousands of other cases against pharmacy operators.
"Today against Walmart, Walgreens and CVS the delayed bill for their involvement in creating a general nuisance, "the plaintiffs' lawyers said in a joint statement.
Ju rors only assessed liability. to reduce, or address, the general inconvenience of Ohio and Trumbull counties.
He has tentatively scheduled a trial on that issue by May 9. & # 39; lawyers have said the costs are potentially $ 1
CVS said in a statement that it did not agree with the verdict and planned to appeal, arguing that the court applied general nuisance legislation incorrectly. , as other courts in similar opioid cases have recently declined to apply for drug manufacturers. and healthcare systems and all members of our community, "said CVS.
Representatives of Walgreens and Walmart did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit was the first that any pharmacy had encountered in an episode. demi as the US health authorities say had 2019 resulted in nearly 500,000 deaths from opioid overdose over the course of two decades.
At the trial, Lake and Trumbull County attorneys argued that pharmacies could not ensure that opioid prescriptions were valid and allowed surpluses of addictive painkillers to flood their communities.
Pharmacy operators, among the largest in the United States, denied the allegations. They said they were taking steps to protect themselves against pill diversion and accused others, including doctors, regulators and drug traffickers, of the epidemic.
The Ohio trial recently followed a setback for plaintiffs pursuing some of the other 3,300 opioid lawsuits filed against drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies nationally.
against drug manufacturer Johnson. & Johnson, and a California judge ruled this month in favor of four drug manufacturers in a case brought by several major counties.
Other lawsuits are pending in New York involving drug manufacturers Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and AbbVie Inc., and in the state of Washington with the three largest U.S. drug distributors.