Florida Targets CVS, Walgreens in Lawsuit Over Opioid Crisis

The state of Florida, which is joining a string of states going after the opioid industry in court, has added pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens to their previously-filed lawsuit. In addition to the pharmacy giants, the lawsuit also names Allergan, Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt, Janssen and others.

The lawsuit claims that CVS and Walgreens either knew or should have known that some of the opioids ordered and supplied to Florida communities would eventually make their way to the black market, as the quantities exceeded medical justification.

Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General, says both pharmacies failed to use “highly detailed” prescription, distribution and sales tracking data to flag high-quantity orders as suspicious.

The lawsuit alleges that by ignoring suspicious data, the defendants “violated their duty by selling and shipping billions of opioids into Florida without raising an alarm or “taking reasonable steps to prevent diversion.”

In some cases, opioid orders at Walgreens rose as much as 600% over a two-year period. The lawsuit cites a Walgreens distribution center that sold more than 2 million tablets to a single Walgreens in Hudson, Florida. The order was large enough to cover a six-month supply for each resident of the town.

Between 2006 and 2014, CVS reportedly sold over 700 million dosages of opioids.

A Florida health report from 2010 found that the state was responsible for 90 of the top 100 physicians purchasing oxycodone.

Local governments and Native American Tribe councils across the country have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers alleging that they violated consumer protection laws as well as other laws. The Justice Department has come out in support of state actions and has requested to join settlement talks against distributors and manufacturers.

In 2017, opioid deaths increased 10% compared to the previous year. The U.S. recorded 72,000 over dose deaths last year.