Judge to decide how much pharmacies owe two Ohio counties over opioid crisis
A hearing began Tuesday in federal court in Cleveland that will help a judge determine how much CVS, Walgreens and Walmart should pay two northeast Ohio counties to help them ease the continuing opioid crisis.
A jury in November concluded that the three pharmacy chains were responsible for damage wrought by the opioid epidemic in Lake and Trumbull counties. Jurors concluded that the pharmacies contributed to a so-called public nuisance in Lake and Trumbull counties in Ohio by selling and dispensing huge quantities of prescription pain pills. In a statement, attorneys for the Ohio counties that filed the federal lawsuit described the jury's decision as a "milestone victory" in the effort to hold companies accountable for an addiction crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
"For decades, pharmacy chains have watched as the pills flowing out of their doors cause harm and failed to take action as required by federal law," the attorneys said.
Executives for the pharmacy chains have long maintained they did nothing wrong and dispensed pills only after prescriptions had been written by licensed health care providers.
Plaintiff attorneys before trial said the cost to abate the crisis is around $1 billion for each county.
Attorneys for the pharmacy chains in recent court filings said the amount is far lower and damage caused by others should be excluded from any amounts ordered by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster.