Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash 90
Judicial the process has led to several nationwide deals, including a $4.25 billion settlement with Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.
A federal judge ruled that pharmacy operators CVS, Walmart and Walgreens must pay a combined $650.6 million to two Ohio counties to repair the damage caused by the opioid epidemic.
US District Judge Dan Polster's order in Cleveland marks the first time pharmacy chains have been ordered to pay money in an opioid lawsuit. This comes after a jury found last November that the companies helped create public discomfort in Lake and Trumbull counties by overstocking addictive painkillers, many of which ended up on the black market.
caused by this devastating epidemic,” Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda said.
The pharmacies, which argued that they could not be held responsible for complying with legal orders from doctors, said they would appeal the verdict. Representatives for Walgreens and CVS said the decision was not supported by law and that they plan to appeal the decision. Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Walgreens was also found guilty last week in an opioid lawsuit filed by San Francisco , although the judge has not yet determined how much she should pay.
The judge said that this amount should be paid within 15 years, and the amount for the first two years, or $86.7 million, should be paid immediately. He also ordered companies to implement new procedures to combat the illegal use of opioids.
According to government figures, the opioid epidemic in the United States has caused more than 500,000 overdose deaths in two decades. More than 3,300 lawsuits have been filed, mostly by local authorities, accusing drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy chains of fueling the crisis.
The lawsuit has resulted in several nationwide settlements, including a $26 billion deal with Johnson & Johnson and three top distributors, a $2.37 billion settlement with AbbVie Inc, and a $4.25 billion settlement with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
Pharmacists have yet to achieve any nationwide settlement, but Walgreens and CVS settled with Florida for $683 million and $484 million, respectively.