Pharmaceutical companies Walmart, CVS and Walgreens have been ordered by a federal judge on Wednesday to pay in excess of $650 million in compensation for their failure to monitor Opioid prescriptions in Ohio.
The “abatement” fees must be paid over a period of 15 years to two counties in Ohio who are in the midst of a public health crisis due to opioid addictions.
The two counties in question are Ohio’s Lake and Trumbull counties, both of which are near Cleveland. Lake County will receive about $306 million and Trumbull $344 million.
“Today marks the start of a new day in our fight to end the opioid epidemic,” Lake County Commissioner John Hamercheck told the Associated Press.
Frank Fuda, who is the Trumbull County Commissioner, expressed his relief at the ruling, saying “the harms caused by this devastating epidemic” can now be addressed.
US District Judge Dan Polster also ordered the 3 companies to put systems in place “to ensure they are complying fully” with federal laws regarding the sale of prescription drugs.
Mark Lanier, who represented the plaintiffs, provided expert testimony to the court and stated that the amount required to fix the mess left by opioid would be in the region of $3 billion. The judge disagreed and said that Boots, Walgreens and CVS were one of three components which created this crisis, the other 2 being drug manufacturers and drug distributors. The $650 million figure represents about a third of that $3 billion, the judge stated in his ruling.
“These companies are rending the fabric of society apart,” Lanier told The New York Times during an interview on Wednesday. “They should not only show remorse, but they should also show they need to rectify what they’ve done. And they won’t do it. So, the judge is doing it.”
Representatives for Boots, Walgreens and CVS have said they intend to appeal the decision.
Fraser Engerman, who is a spokesman for Walgreens, said the judge’s analysis was flawed, and stated that Walgreens will appeal the decision. “We never manufactured or marketed opioids nor did we distribute them to the ‘pill mills’ and internet pharmacies that fueled this crisis,” he said.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: UPI.COM
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