On Tuesday, US pharmacies CVS Health Corp, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, and Walmart Inc began the first-of-its-kind trial in two Ohio counties to assess what the drugstore chains owe for their part in the opioid epidemic, Reuters reports.
In the first trial the firms faced over the problem, a federal jury concluded in November that the businesses helped create a public nuisance with an alleged flow of addictive pain drugs that ended up on the black market.
The jury did not decide on the amount the corporations should pay to help ease the health issue, which will now be decided by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, in what will be the first trial to establish what the drugstore chains owe after being found responsible.
The counties of Lake and Trumbull in Ohio want the US pharmacies to contribute $878 million over five years to a plan that includes addiction and overdose treatment, resources for police officers and healthcare professionals, and job training for addicts.
Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart responded by offering a one-year program in the two counties to purchase back unwanted prescription opioid medicines. They claim that Ohio’s public nuisance legislation only forces them to remedy the nuisance recognized by the jury – an excess of prescription medications – rather than all of its harmful consequences.
CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart have all refuted the counties’ claims and have stated that they would appeal the November ruling.
Companies claimed that if they are required to do more than simply purchase products back, they should not be obliged to fund costs associated with illegal drug usage. They also claimed that the counties’ five-year plan’s expenditures were exaggerated.
According to government statistics, the opioid crisis in the United States has resulted in over 500,000 overdose fatalities in the last two decades. Over 3,300 opioid cases have been filed across the country, resulting in a slew of suggested settlements.
CVS and Walgreens reportedly promised to cover more than $1.1 billion to resolve an opioid suit filed by the state of Florida, marking the first time that a statewide compensation of opioid claims has been achieved by US pharmacies.
The public nuisance hypothesis used by Ohio counties has been challenged just a few times in court, and the outcomes have been varied.