W.Va. AG files lawsuits against Rite-Aid, Walgreens

Published: Jun. 4, 2020 at 2:01 PM EDT
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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed lawsuits against Rite-Aid and Walgreens, alleging the two opioid distributors gained billions of dollars in revenue while causing harm to West Virginia citizens.

The lawsuits allege Rite-Aid and Walgreen supplied more opioids to their pharmacies than necessary. According to the lawsuits, even after that, those pharmacies ordered additional pills from other distributors to fill the demand.

Morrisey said Rite-Aid and Walgreens each knew they had an obligation to halt suspicious orders to its retail pharmacies, but failed to monitor or report that activity.

“Prescription opioid pill mills and rogue prescribers cannot channel opioids for illicit use without at least the tacit support and willful blindness of distributors, if not their knowing support,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Those who unconscionably help create our state’s opioid epidemic should be held accountable, pay for their role in the crisis and act to remediate the problem. West Virginia deserves nothing less.”

Each company was among the state's top 10 opioid distributors from 2006 to 2014, during which the Rite-Aid lawsuit estimates it distributed the equivalent of more than 87 million 10-milligram oxycodone pills, and its retail pharmacies ordered another 127.5 million pills from other distributors.

The Walgreens complaint estimates it distributed the equivalent of 29.6 million pills, and its pharmacies ordered another 17.6 million.

These lawsuits follow several filed last year against opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions Inc. and Mallinckrodt LLC.

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