By MARK GILLISPIE, Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) – One of four retail pharmacy companies on trial for their alleged roles in promoting an opioid crisis in two Ohio counties, announced Friday that it has resolved lawsuits filed by 10 state government agencies that they accused the companies of creating a public nuisance.
The Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle deal includes Lake and Trumbull Counties, whose federal lawsuits were heard in a bell trial in Cleveland that began in early October. The other defendants on trial are CVS, Walgreens and Walmart.
Settlement terms have not been announced. Another pharmacy chain, Rite-Aid, settled with the two counties in August. Rite-Aid agreed to pay Trumbull County $ 1.5 million. The amount Lake County will receive has not been disclosed.
Giant Eagle in a joint statement with a committee representing plaintiffs in the domestic litigation denied causing the opioid crisis, but said it acknowledged the severity of the crisis, the impact on the public, and the “hard work of public officials who they work to deal with the damage. “
“Giant Eagle intends to continue helping the communities in which it operates to address the opioid crisis productively,” the statement said.
In a separate statement, Lake and Trumbull County officials said they are focused on “supporting our necessary action to combat the persistent negative impacts caused by the opioid epidemic.”
US District Judge Dan Polster is overseeing the current trial in Cleveland and oversees nearly 3,000 opioid lawsuits filed by government agencies and tribal entities across the country.
More than 500,000 people in the United States have died from drug overdoses in the past two decades.
The Cleveland trial focused on how companies contributed to the opioid crisis by filling out millions of prescriptions for addictive pain relievers. All four companies also distributed those drugs to their retail pharmacies at various times.
About 80 million prescription pain relievers were administered in Trumbull County between 2012 and 2016 – 400 for every county resident – while 61 million pills were dispensed in Lake County during that five-year period – 265 pills. for each resident.
The cost of mitigating the crisis in each county is about $ 1 billion, one of the counties’ attorneys said.
“We were hit by a tsunami and were pulling bodies out of the water,” April Caraway, executive director of the Trumbull County Mental Health & Recovery Board testified earlier this week.
Counties say companies’ lax or non-existent controls and systems for detecting suspicious orders and prescriptions contributed to the crisis. The companies said their pharmacies filled prescriptions written by doctors for legitimate medical needs.
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