Opioid Crisis: Walmart, CVS, Walgreens To Pay $650M in Damages

Photo: AP [via The Washington Post]

The Facts

  • A federal judge in Cleveland, Ohio, has determined that CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart must pay $650M to two of the state's counties for their role in the opioid crisis. The ruling comes just a week after a San Franciscan judge found that Walgreens could be held partially responsible for the public health disaster that has killed 500k Americans since 1999.

  • The damages will be used by Lake and Trumbull counties to counter the effects of ongoing opioid crises among their populations, with Lake set to receive $306M over 15 years and Trumbull $344M over the same period.

The Spin

Pro-establishment narrative

These retailers had policies to stem the flow of prescription medication - it was common practice for pharmacists to voice concerns and notify authorities about suspicious orders. But ultimately the pharmacies didn't decide whether people needed the prescriptions, they were simply compelled to fulfill them. The companies aren't responsible for the opioid problems and have only been sued because the counties were in search of deep pockets and a scapegoat.

Establishment-critical narrative

Retailers profited from neglectfully oversupplying blue-collar communities in Ohio with highly addictive pills - this is a victory for justice. This order may be a tide turning case for thousands of other communities seeking to hold big pharmacies accountable for the public health disaster that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Establishment split



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