Kentucky sues Walgreens, says it has role in opioid epidemic

(Reuters) – Kentucky’s attorney general on Thursday sued Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, accusing the company of playing a dual role in propagating an opioid epidemic in the state as both a pharmacy chain and wholesale drug distributor.

A customer walks out of a Walgreens pharmacy store in Austin, TX, U.S., March 26, 2018. Picture taken on March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Khursheed

The lawsuit by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear was his sixth to date seeking to hold corporations like drug manufacturers and distributors responsible for their roles in the drug abuse crisis.

The lawsuit, filed in state circuit court in Boone County, said Walgreens’ pharmacies “filled massive and/or suspicious orders of unusual size.” As a distributor, it failed to report suspicious orders to authorities, according to the complaint.

“While Walgreens’ slogan was ‘at the corner of happy and healthy,’ they have significantly harmed the health of our families in fueling the opioid epidemic,” Beshear said in a statement.

The lawsuit seeks damages and penalties as well as an injunction.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens declined to comment.

States, counties and cities have filed hundreds of lawsuits, accusing drugmakers of pushing addictive painkillers through deceptive marketing, and accused wholesale distributors of failing to report suspicious drug orders.

Beshear is pursuing similar cases against drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp as well as drugmakers Johnson & Johnson and Endo International Plc.

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