Florida Files Suit Against Walgreens, CVS For Opioid Crisis

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 04: A pedestrian walks by a CVS Pharmacy on December 4, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Florida’s State Attorney General has filed suit against pharmacy giants Walgreens and CVS for “unconscionable efforts to increase the demand and supply of opioids into” the state, according to NPR.

Pam Bondi, the state’s Attorney General, announced through her office that the two chains have been added to a lawsuit filed in May against opioid distributors and manufacturers. The suit includes Purdue Pharma, who makes OxyContin, and Endo Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Percocet.

The suit claims that all the defendants created a demand for opioids while “unlawfully increasing the supply of opioids” and “worked together to inflate the supply and demand for opioids.”

A press release from Bondi’s office says that the two chains “failed in their duties under Florida law to stop suspicious orders of opioids they received” and “dispensed unreasonable quantities of opioids from their pharmacies.”

Under Florida law, pharmacists must refuse to dispense prescriptions if they believe the medications are not for existing conditions. The lawsuit says that billions of doses have been dispensed from 820 Walgreens stores in the state.

The suit goes on to say that CVS has 754 stores in Florida, and distributed more than 700 million opioid doses from 2006 to 2014. According to the CDC, around 115 people die every single day in the U.S. due to opioid overdoses.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 22: (AFP OUT) Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks during a meeting with President Donald Trump and state and local officials on school safety at The White House February 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
  Chris Kleponis-Pool / Getty Images

Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that in 2016 alone, 2,798 residents of Florida died due to opioid-related overdoses. In Tampa Bay, Florida, someone dies every 43 hours, according to Florida’s ABC Action News.

The town of Hudson, Florida, which has 34,000 residents, has filled prescriptions for 2.2 million opioid pills. That’s enough pills to give every resident of Hudson a two-month supply of opioids.

A statement issued by CVS says that the suit is “without merit.”

Walgreens responded to media requests by saying the company doesn’t comment on pending lawsuits.

“We will continue to pursue those companies that played a role in creating the opioid crisis,” Bondi said.

“Thousands of Floridians have suffered as a result of the actions of the defendants.”

Bondi’s name has been mentioned by Donald Trump as a potential U.S. Attorney General, making her a possible permanent replacement for Jeff Sessions, according to CNBC. Sessions recently “resigned” as the AG after months of being publicly bashed by Trump. His position is being temporarily filled by Matthew Whitaker, who served as chief of staff for Sessions, though previous reports detailed how public outcry followed Whitaker’s temporary appointment to the role.