Pharmacy giant Walgreens accused of "flooding" Florida with opioids

Pharmacy giant Walgreens accused of “flooding” Florida with opioids

Walgreens, one of the largest drugstore chains in America, was cursed for “flooding” the state of Florida with opioids in a civil lawsuit.

The company was sued by the state of Florida on charges of failing to perform due diligence in filling opioid prescriptions from 1999-2020 and not diverting drugs from patients who may have abused or illegally used the drugs. .

A Sunshine state attorney also said that the Illinois-based Deerfield company allowed addictive drugs to flood the state.

The cause comes when many high-profile actors in the opioid crisis – which is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year – face a civilian showdown.

Pharmacy giant Walgreens is facing a civil lawsuit from the state of Florida over allegations that it helped “flood” the state with opioids by not adequately restricting distribution to people displaying red flags that they would use them illegally

Walgreens points doctors to the problem, accusing them of over-prescribing addictive drugs to vulnerable patients

“Walgreens was the last line of defense in preventing the improper distribution of opioids,” said Jim Webster, who serves as a state attorney.

“It was the entity that actually put opioids into the hands of opioid addicts and into the hands of criminals.”

Steven Derringer (pictured, the Walgreens attorney, said:

Steven Derringer (pictured, the Walgreens attorney, said, “There are so many pills because doctors have written so many prescriptions for pain medicine.”

Walgreens filled out one in four prescriptions of opioids in Florida between 1999 and 2020 and did not investigate red flags that could have prevented the drugs from being hijacked for illegal use, Webster said as jurors heard the opening statements of the trial held in New Port Richey, just north of Tampa.

Many of the drugs sold illegally on the black markets are legally obtained by prescription, and many people who end up abusing addictive opioids start using the drugs as pain relievers.

The company claims doctors are to blame for writing so many prescriptions for the drugs.

Walgreens attorney Steven Derringer said in his opening statement that the drugstore chain filled out doctors’ prescriptions and did not ignore the red flags that allowed opioids to flood Florida.

“There are so many pills because doctors have written so many prescriptions for pain medicine,” Derringer said.

Doctors have been scrutinized in recent years for the role they potentially played in creating the opioid epidemic.

Several analyzes found that doctors overprescribed drugs, often giving them to patients who either did not require them or offered more than was needed.

This became a problem especially after surgery, in which many patients who needed pain management drugs ended up taking so much of them that they became addicted.

Walgreens is the latest defendant in a massive wave of state lawsuits against drug distributors and manufacturers for the role they would play in increasing drug deaths in Florida and across America.

According to Attorney General Ashley Moody, Florida has raised more than $ 3 billion in litigation against drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies.

CVS was also sued by the state of Florida and paid a half-billion dollar settlement for its role in the opioid crisis.

CVS was also sued by the state of Florida and paid a half-billion dollar settlement for its role in the opioid crisis.

Most will be spent on efforts to mitigate the opioid crisis in the state.

“With the money we’ll take to Florida. These families will begin to heal, “Moody told Fox 13 in Tampa.

In March, Walgreens rival CVS Health Corp agreed to pay Florida $ 484 million.

Drug makers Teva will pay $ 194.8 million, Allergan will pay $ 134.2 million, and Endo will pay $ 65 million.

Moody says it’s not just about the money, though, it’s about stopping these harmful business practices.

“The marketing, the distribution, the practices that have brought us to where we are today, cannot be repeated in the future,” he said.

Walgreens previously said it was immune from being sued based on a simple $ 3,000 settlement reached with Florida in 2012, following an investigation into its record keeping policies and efforts to prevent diversion. of opioid drugs.

Judge Kimberly Sharpe Byrd, who is overseeing this trial, ruled in March that the 2012 settlement covered only a single record-keeping violation and did not protect Walgreens from other claims.

The company appealed the sentence.

The United States had a record 105,000 overdose deaths from October 2020 to 2021, with 80% caused by opioids and synthetic versions of the drug such as fentanyl accounting for 70% of deaths, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control. and Prevention (CDC).

Many people who develop an opiate addiction will eventually switch to illicit versions of the drug once their original supply is exhausted.

Some of these illicit drug manufacturers use fentanyl as a cheaper alternative to opioid drugs made by pharmaceutical companies.

The drug is very potent, however, and only limited quantities can cause an overdose.

Florida recorded 8,000 overdose deaths from October 2020 to 2021, according to the CDC report, or 37.1 per 100,000 residents, the 18th highest rate in the state.

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