CLEVELAND — A federal jury last month found that pharmacies operated by CVS Health, Walgreens and Walmart contributed to the opioid epidemic in two Ohio counties, which had sued the retailers in 2018. Thousands of other lawsuits have been filed by state, county and local governments across the country charging that pharmacies were partly to blame for the opioid crisis because they failed to monitor prescriptions and patient drug use, ignoring “red flags” that opioids were being illegally diverted.
The lawsuits claim that by acting as “public nuisances” the pharmacies helped fuel a crisis that saddled local governments with costs associated with overdose death and addiction treatment. Rite Aid Corp. settled with the two Ohio counties in August, before the case went to trial. Terms of that settlement, which severed Rite Aid from the case, were not disclosed. Giant Eagle settled more recently, while the trial was under way.