A federal judge ordered three of the country’s largest pharmacy chains to pay $650.6 million to two Ohio counties that they were found to have flooded with prescription painkillers. The court said Wednesday in a landmark judgment that CVS, Walgreens and Walmart must bear some of the cost that the opioid epidemic has wrought on Lake and Trumbull counties, outside Cleveland.
The award comes after a first-of-its-kind federal trial targeting the three major retailers, which have some of the deepest pockets left in the legal battle over the epidemic. Many other major drug distributors and makers have settled or filed for bankruptcy.
A jury ruled last year that the pharmacies played a significant role in the crisis faced by the two counties. U.S. District Judge Dan A. Polster in Cleveland wrote this week that the pharmacy chains had dispensed the drugs “without effective controls and procedures” to prevent the pills from being abused and resold and are thus partially responsible for the damage the epidemic has caused in the two communities.
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