The State of Arkansas attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, has moved to court to sue Walgreens for playing a role in fueling the opioid crisis in the state.
In her case, Rutledge accuses the pharmacy chain of filing a relatively large number of suspicious orders for opioid painkillers even when it was clear that the opioid crisis had hit its peak in the state.
Rutledge filed the case on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Pulaski County Court, accusing the Pharmacy chain of violating Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The lawsuit further accuses Walgreens of failing to take appropriate measures to detect and cancel suspicious prescription opioid orders leading to a large number of opioids being distributed throughout the state.
According to the lawsuit, Walgreens distributed approximately 142million doses of hydrocodone and oxycodone in the state between 2006 and 2014.
The attorney general argues that the sheer volume of the orders alone should have alerted the pharmacy chain that suspicious opioid orders with the number of placed orders exceeding what could be consumed medically in the state.
However, the pharmacy turned a blind eye to this fact and failed to halt or report the suspicious orders. Instead, they went ahead to fulfill the orders, which lead to a significant increase in the number of prescription opioids distributed in Arkansas.
Fierce Defense Against the Opioid Lawsuit
After learning of the lawsuit filed against it, Walgreens came out to say that it would do everything possible to defend itself against the allegations. The drugstore was quick to clarify that the primary focus of its pharmacists has always been patient safety and health.
The company pointed out that its pharmacists are fully equipped with “robust” policies and procedures that help them to make sound clinical judgments.
In a statement shared with the media outlets, Walgreens said that all prescriptions are written by qualified doctors based on their medical training, experience, and clinical judgment.
When a patient presents a valid prescription from a qualified doctor, its pharmacists don’t have the authority to question its legitimacy. Instead, they are obliged to fulfill the prescription as written.
Growing Number of Opioid Lawsuits
State and local governments across the country have filed thousands of opioid lawsuits against drug companies over their roles in the opioid crisis being experienced in the country. Leading pharmacies, including Walgreens, have been targeted in many of the opioid lawsuits.
Although some of the lawsuits have been settled, others are still active. Most of the opioid lawsuits have targeted large drug manufacturers and distributors, but no major lawsuit has surfaced targeting pharmacies.
In recent years, Rutledge has filed other opioid cases against some of the giant drug companies and distributors.
In her submission, the attorney general claims that the actions of Walgreens cost the State of Arkansas and its residents millions of dollars for opioid orders that were misrepresented, illegal, and harmful to consumers.
Opioid Overdose Related Deaths
Opioids have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the United States since 2000. Unfortunately, it is not just about prescription opioid painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin alone.
In some cases, patients are forced to turn to illegally produced opioids such as fentanyl and heroin to satisfy their cravings.
Reported cases of opioid overdose across the country have been on the rise since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2019, the State of Arkansas had the second-highest number of opioid prescriptions, at approximately 80.9 prescriptions for every 100 residents.
The figure was much higher than the average national of about 46.7 prescriptions for every 100 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Have you or your loved one been affected by the opioid crisis in the country? Have you lost your loved one as a result of prescription opioid overdose? Talk to an experienced opioid lawsuit attorney today to find out if you qualify for compensation.