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CVS, Walgreens, Wal-Mart fuels opioid crisis, jury discovers

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On Tuesday, a federal judge in Cleveland found that three of the largest pharmacy chains in the United States (CVS Health, Walmart, and Walgreens) were the first retailers in the pharmaceutical industry to contribute significantly to the risk of opioid overdose and death. Did. It has been held accountable in decades of fashion.

After the spring hearing, the judge decides how much each company should pay to the county.

The first judgment by the opioid jury was encouraged by plaintiffs in thousands of proceedings nationwide, as they all depended on the same legal strategy. “Pollution,” Plaintiffs’ allegations cover the public health crisis caused by opioids.

Pollution debate was rejected by the judge twice this month California When Okurahoma A state lawsuit against an opioid maker. Judges found that, according to the details of their country’s pollution law, corporate activities were too excluded from overdose and death, and the law was too broadly applied.

In this case, brought in by Lake County and Trumbull County in northeastern Ohio, the plaintiff’s lawyer successfully used the legal claim. They claimed that for years, pharmacies were blinded to countless warning signs about suspicious opioid orders, both at the local counter where the patient obtained the drug and at the headquarters where there were monitoring requirements. .. Attorney-at-law, “Too few, too late.”

After a six-week trial, twelve juries deliberated for five and a half days.

“This is the first opioid trial against these major household names,” said Adam Zimmerman, a class action lawyer at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “Because they were the group of defendants who didn’t want to reconcile the most, this verdict is at least a small sign to them that these proceedings do not always work in front of the jury.” He said the department’s pharmacy defendants could come to consider resolving rather than going to trial.

However, Zimmerman also said that the opioid proceedings, which are to be tried in many state and federal courts across countries, still have a long way to go.

“It’s like having many different ball games at once, each with slightly different rules, and we’re in the early stages of almost all of them,” he said in each state. Due to its own pollution law, the three recent outcomes may have little legal impact on future proceedings.

However, despite the thousands of opioid cases first raised in 2014, the urgency to get support for the opioid-crushed community has not slowed down.New federal data Death from opioid overdose released last week The surge in deaths from illegal opioids such as heroin and street fentanyl reached record levels during the pandemic.

The well-financed retailers were the last group of pharmaceutical companies tracked in court. To date, they face fewer proceedings than any other pharmaceutical company.

Last summer, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS and Wal-Mart settled with two New York counties, Nasso and Suffolk, for $ 26 million. In the Ohio proceedings, regional chains Rite Aid and the Giant Eagle settled early for an undisclosed amount.

In contrast, some opioid manufacturers and distributors have proposed multi-billion dollar settlements nationwide.

“Today’s rulings against Wal-Mart, Walgreens and CVS represent a delinquency in light of collusion to cause pollution,” he said in a statement after the verdict on Tuesday afternoon. ..

CVS, Walgreens, Walmart They said they would appeal the verdict. “Pharmacists fill out legal prescriptions written by DEA-approved physicians who prescribe FDA-approved legitimate substances to treat patients in real need,” CVS said in a statement. I am.

“We look forward to the proceedings being considered by the Court of Appeals, including the misuse of pollution law,” the statement went on.

In closing arguments at a trial in the U.S. District Court in Cleveland last week Mr. Lanier, A Texas court lawyer representing the county said the pharmacy chain “makes money from every pill it sells.”

“They don’t make money by refusing to fill,” he added.

However, he added that the licensed pharmacist is the gatekeeper who is obliged to question the suspicious prescription.

Lanier, who built his career by winning a spectacular award from Big Pharma, told the jury that the Drug Enforcement Department should have notified the venture as far back as 2012. Started pursuing a chain pharmacy in Florida To pump out opioids that landed far to Ohio.

The jury had to first determine if oversupply of prescription drugs and subsequent illegal diversion caused pollution in each county.

Under pollution law, the crisis must continue. However, in recent years the number of opioid prescriptions has declined. This is primarily due to increased surveillance by state and federal surveillance programs, revisions to physician guidelines, and corporate compliance.

County lawyers successfully claimed that patients who were dependent on pills turned into heroin and illegal fentanyl when supplies were reduced. The result was a foreseeable direct descendant of the flood of prescription opioid tablets, the lawyer said.

The jury moved on to the second question after concluding that there was pollution associated with the opioid crisis in the county. Did each pharmacy chain engage in “intentional” or “illegal” conduct and contribute substantially to the pollution of the opioid crisis?

If so, under the law, defendants must pay to “mitigate” the “nuisance” they have exacerbated.

Similar to the jury’s decision in the criminal case, the verdict in this civil case had to be unanimous. However, the jury had to apply only the “larger evidence weight” (at least 51 percent) as the basis of evidence. This is below the level of “beyond reasonable doubt” required to convict a criminal trial.

Pharmacy lawyers responded with an argument that the court may still sue to be persuasive. They said their stores were only a small part of the total number of pharmacies, hospitals and clinics dispensing opioids in the two counties, and the amount of tablets sold was proportionally lower.

Their lawyers claimed that there were too many reasons for opioid drugs to explode throughout the county and be very clearly criticized at the feet of pharmacies. They pointed out the family medicine cabinet, which is a storage place for so many unused tablets, as a pile of illegal diversion. For manufacturers who recruit doctors, oversell the benefits of opioids, and downplay risks. And to doctors who ordered more and more powerful quantities, encouraging them to treat their pain more aggressively.

“Everyone knows that it is the prescriber who controls demand,” said Walgreens lawyer Brian Swanson. “Pharmacists do not create demand.”

Repeatedly, the defendant’s lawyer turned to federal authorities. Not only were the medicines approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but DEA set an annual limit on the number of opioids that could be produced domestically, they said.

In closing arguments, Wal-Mart lawyer John Majorus mentioned the bridge over the Kaiyahoga River as seen from the courts. Plaintiffs said he had not built a bridge connecting all the elements needed to prove that the pharmacy caused the pollution.

Then Mr. Lanier stood up for his last remark. He said he was just waiting to talk about such a bridge. After that, he built a model bridge made of hundreds of Lego.

He admitted that there were many contributors to the crisis. However, the pharmacy was unable to escape liability, Mr. Lanier claimed, claiming that the county contained only relatively small amounts of opioids (and he challenged the method of calculating defense).

He said the community relies on the ruggedness of the steel pedestal of the bridge.

But what if, when he asks, two or three are rotten or in the wrong place while people are driving it? After that, he knocked out just a few people. “Everything can fall,” he said, when the model shattered in front of the jury.

It is not yet known if this verdict will survive the appeal.In addition to the many legal issues arising from the case, defendants are expected to continue their criticism. Judge Dan Aaron Polster, He has presided over trials and has overseen the aggregation of thousands of opioid proceedings over the years.

The statement from Walgreens seemed to be just as predictable. “We believe that the Court of Justice has made a serious legal error by allowing a proceeding to a jury on a flawed legal theory that contradicts Ohio law.” ..

The debate over whether an illegal trial should be declared may be in the debate on the appeal. The jury has shown her external investigation to other juries. The jury was dismissed and the trial continued. And pharmacy retailers have the potential to revive their long-standing complaints — their belief that Judge Polster appears to be in favor of plaintiffs. Since 2018, he has urged all sides to resolve the proceedings so that they do not prolong the proceedings and that the communities devastated by the opioid crisis can begin to receive the urgent need for relief.

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2/ https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/23/health/walmart-cvs-opioid-lawsuit-verdict.html

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