Walmart Among Three Superchains Fined Over $650 Million Collectively For Ohio Opioid Case

Joel Eisenberg

Walgreens and CVS share the fine with Walmart in this landmark ruling.

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WalmartShutterstock

Author’s Note

This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. Linked information within this article is attributed to the following outlets: CBSNews.com, NYTimes.com, Wikipedia.org, HHS.gov, and Google.com.

Introduction

According to CBSNews.com’s “CVS, Walgreens and Walmart Ordered to Pay 2 Ohio Counties $650 Million in Opioids Suit,”

A federal judge in Cleveland awarded $650 million in damages Wednesday to two Ohio counties that won a landmark lawsuit against national pharmacy chains CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, claiming the way they distributed opioids to customers caused severe harm to communities.

The New York Times (NYTimes.com), in their piece entitled “CVS, Walgreens and Walmart Must Pay $650.5 Million in Ohio Opioids Case,” elaborates on the matter: The decision is a companion piece to a November jury verdict that found the companies had continued to dispense mass quantities of prescription painkillers over the years while ignoring flagrant signs that the pills were being abused.

The article goes on to discuss the historic nature of the ruling, in that for the first time a federal judge assigned a specific money figure against the pharmacy chains for their roles in the opioid crisis: Here, the judge, Dan A. Polster of United States District Court in northern Ohio, who has overseen more than 3,000 cases in the opioid litigation, ruled that the pharmacies bore responsibility for one-third of the amount that Ohio’s hard-hit Lake and Trumbull counties need to address the continuing damage wrought by the epidemic.

Let us explore further.

Ohio Opioid Case Outcome

Wikipedia features a comprehensive overview of opioids as drugs and industry. The page states: Opioids are substances that act on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects. Medically they are primarily used for pain relief, including anesthesia. Other medical uses include suppression of diarrhea, replacement therapy for opioid use disorder, reversing opioid overdose, and suppressing cough. Extremely potent opioids such as carfentanil are approved only for veterinary use. Opioids are also frequently used non-medically for their euphoric effects or to prevent withdrawal. Opioids can cause death and have been used for executions in the United States… An overdose or concurrent use with other depressant drugs like benzodiazepines commonly results in death from respiratory depression.

Note: I left the Wikipedia links in the above excerpt for cross-reference purposes.

The U.S. has long had an opioid abuse issue, which has led to laws and the Ohio ruling, a landmark expected to be the first of many whereby manufacturers and distributors both may well be held accountable.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines our national opioid issue as an “epidemic.”

As excerpted from the federal agency’s website: In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive. In 2017 HHS declared a public health emergency and announced a 5-Point Strategy To Combat the Opioid Crisis.

The webpage, HHS.gov, also shared the following table, which visually illustrates the crisis by the numbers:

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Opioid Crisis, By The NumbersHHS.gov (public domain)

Per a targeted Google search, the Ohio ruling is expected to send a widespread message regarding accountability.

Conclusion

The three superchains ruled accountable will continue business as usual. How said ruling will impact the public’s perception of the companies, however, remains to be seen.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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