CLEVELAND—A lawyer for two Ohio counties told a federal jury Monday at the start of a closely watched opioid trial that failures by four big pharmacy operators, including CVS Health Corp. and Walmart Inc., helped fuel the deadly US health crisis. .
Pharmacy chains have faced nationwide litigation over the pandemic, on the first trial that Mark Lanier told a federal jury in Cleveland, that the companies have claimed responsibility for drug abuse in the counties of Lake and Trumbull.
Other defendants pharmacy chains Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and are run by Giant Eagle Inc.
Counties argue that they failed to ensure that prescriptions were valid, leading to an oversupply of pills, overdoses, and deaths.
“They are known to be the last line of defense,” Lanier said in his opening statement. “These are the people who are firing bullets on the streets. They have to provide effective control.”
The opening statement is expected to continue on Monday and Tuesday. The companies deny wrongdoing, saying criminals were more likely to obtain opioids illegally from other sources, including pill mills, crooked doctors and drug traffickers.
More than 3,300 cases have been brought largely by state and local governments seeking to hold companies accountable for an opioid abuse epidemic, which U.S. government data shows nearly 500,000 from 1999 to 2019. More deaths occurred.
Pharmacy operators have never before faced trial in litigation.
If jurors find that the companies have caused a public nuisance, U.S. District Judge Dan Pollster will determine how much they must pay to reduce or address the health crisis in the communities. He urged the parties to come to a compromise.
The test was conducted by the three largest US distributors—McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. And Amerisource comes after Bergen Corp—and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson—in July proposed to pay up to $26 billion to settle cases against them.
In August a bankruptcy judge approved a settlement by the owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP and its wealthy Sackler family that valued the company at more than $10 billion.
by Grant Segal
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times