Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. equipped billions of opioid capsules to drug addicts and criminals, contributing to an habit epidemic in Florida, a lawyer for the state mentioned Monday in a civil trial towards the pharmacy chain.
Walgreens stuffed one in 4 opioid prescriptions in Florida between 1999 and 2020, and failed to analyze purple flags that would have prevented medication from being diverted for unlawful use, the state’s lawyer Jim Webster mentioned as jurors heard opening statements within the trial held in New Port Richey.
“Walgreens was the final line of protection in stopping improper distribution of opioids,” Webster mentioned. “It was the entity that truly put the opioids within the arms of individuals hooked on opioids and the arms of criminals.”
Walgreens, which has denied the allegations, is the ultimate remaining defendant within the trial going down earlier than Decide Kimberly Sharpe Byrd in Pasco County Circuit Court docket.
Florida beforehand reached $878 million in settlements with CVS Well being Corp., Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Abbvie’s Allergan unit and Endo Worldwide.
Steven Derringer, Walgreen’s lawyer, mentioned in his opening assertion that the pharmacy chain stuffed prescriptions from medical doctors and didn’t ignore purple flags that allowed opioids to flood Florida.
“There are such a lot of capsules as a result of medical doctors have written so many prescriptions for ache drugs,” Derringer mentioned.
Florida has spent greater than $14 billion to deal with the opioid disaster within the state, and opioid overdoses have brought on practically 40,000 deaths from 1999 to 2020, Webster informed jurors.
Walgreens deserves a “big chunk of the blame” for overdose deaths and the state’s elevated spending, Webster mentioned.
Derringer countered that others needs to be blamed for the state’s opioid epidemic together with drug producers who lied to pharmacies about habit threat, U.S. Meals and Drug Administration officers who permitted the sale of opioids for power ache and medical doctors who wrote pointless prescriptions.
Florida has collected greater than $3 billion in opioid litigation towards drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies, in accordance with Lawyer Common Ashley Moody. Most might be spent on efforts to mitigate the opioid disaster within the state.
In March, Walgreens rival, CVS Well being, agreed to pay Florida $484 million. Teva pays $194.8 million, Allergan pays $134.2 million and Endo pays $65 million. Read full story
Walgreens beforehand argued it was immune from being sued based mostly on a mere $3,000 settlement it reached with Florida in 2012, following an investigation into its record-keeping insurance policies and efforts to forestall the diversion of opioid medication.
Byrd dominated in March that the 2012 settlement addressed solely a single record-keeping violation and didn’t shield Walgreens from different claims. The corporate has appealed her ruling.
Whereas a big portion of the greater than 500,000 U.S. deaths from overdoses up to now 20 years have been brought on by the highly effective opioid fentanyl and different illicit medication, overuse of prescription ache medicines put numerous People on the trail to habit, proof has proven.
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