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KY Sues Walgreens For Its Dual Role in the Opioid Crisis

Kentucky's AG seeks to hold Walgreens accountable for opioid overdoses.

Kentucky's AG seeks to hold Walgreens accountable for opioid overdoses.

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At the corner of happy and healthy? Not in Kentucky.

The Bluegrass State was home to over 3,700 drug overdose deaths between 2014 and 2016, and the Attorney General plans to hold Walgreens responsible for playing a role in those tragedies.

Kentucky is suing the pharmacy chain for acting as both distributor and dispenser of the opioids that are central to the state’s current crisis. Attorney General Andy Beshear explains, “I want to make sure these billion-dollar companies take responsibility and become part of the solution.”

The company is accused of profiting from the opioid crisis while ignoring obvious signs of substance abuse. The lawsuit claims Walgreens filled orders “for such large quantities of prescription narcotic pain medication that there could be no associated legitimate medical purpose for their use.”

Turning a Blind Eye

Walgreens operates 70 locations in Kentucky, and each licensed pharmacy is equipped to monitor for suspicious activity. Pharmacies have access to real-time data that allows them to view pill dosages and amounts, as well as the specifics of customer orders.

Every pharmacy is required to report suspicious orders to the DEA and flag any orders that are out of the ordinary parameters of prescribing and filling. However, according to the lawsuit, Walgreens did not take these actions and, as a result, the people of Kentucky have suffered immensely.

To pay for this neglect, the state is demanding the pharmacy giant cover the litany of related costs that have mounted across the state. The lawsuit lists a host of expenses including:

Nationwide Trend

Kentucky isn’t the first to take such legal action (and the state likely won’t be the last). In a growing trend, Delaware also filed a similar suit against CVS and Walgreens. Florida has also filed an action against drug manufacturers. Similarly, the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma made accusations against Walgreens, CVS and Walmart, who allegedly “flooded tribal lands with opioids.”

These legal ramifications seem to have gotten the attention of leading drug retailers. New restrictions, such as Walmart’s seven-day cap on acute painkiller prescriptions, are being added to pharmacy policies.

How Walgreens responds to this latest suit remains to be seen. The hope is that better restrictions and protocols at all of the major retailers will prevent future overdoses, reduce over-prescribing and ultimately help change the course of the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Learn more about treatment options for opioid addiction.


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