A bottle containing pills of the opiate OxyContin, produced by Purdue Pharma
Walmart pharmacies , Walgreens and CVS were ordered by an Ohio judge on Wednesday to pay two counties in that state US$650.6 million for their role in the opiate crisis.
A federal judge ordered [these three companies] to pay $650.6 million, in total, to Lake and Trumbull counties, Ohio, the law firm said in a statement. defended both counties, The Lanier Law Firm.
This sum will fund education and prevention programs and reimburse agencies and organizations for costs incurred in order to to manage the crisis, he added.
Walmart announced in a statement its intention to appeal, denouncing a lawsuit riddled with legal and factual errors.
The three retail giants in the United States, which had massively distributed painkillers in these two counties, had been found guilty in November.
Lawyers in two counties in Ohio had managed to convince the jury that the massive presence of opiates was indeed a public nuisance and that pharmacies had participated in it by ignoring, for years, warning signals. x27;alarm over suspicious prescriptions.
County officials simply wanted to be compensated for the burden of a drug epidemic fueled by corporate greed, by the negligence and lack of responsibility of these pharmaceutical chains, commented their lawyer, Mark Lanier, quoted in the press release.
Pharmacy chains believe that pharmacists are simply fulfilling legal prescriptions written by doctors, who prescribe substances approved by health authorities.
Some parties had entered into agreements with the Lake and Trumbull counties to end the lawsuits in exchange for financial payments. This is the case of the pharmacy chains Rite Aid and Giant Eagle.
It was the first time that distributors of drugs, and not producers, were held responsible in this health crisis that has caused more than 500,000 overdose deaths in 20 years in the United States, which has given rise to a myriad of proceedings launched by communities.
Conviction of opiate producers based on public nuisance laws, however, has faced setbacks in California and Oklahoma.
Summer last, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Walmart agreed to pay a total of US$26 million to two counties in New York State.