19 IL Counties Sue Major Drugstore Chains Over Opioid Crisis

Nineteen Illinois counties, including five of the six in the Chicago area, are suing some of the biggest drugstore chains in the country on the grounds that they failed to monitor and limit incorrect prescriptions, which they claim is what led to the opioid overdose problem.

The complaint, which was filed last week in Cook County, is the latest in a long line of opioid cases that state and municipal governments are pursuing against drug producers, distributors, and retailers. All Chicago-area counties, with the exception of Lake county, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The counties claim that Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, Meijer, Albertsons, and Walmart pharmacies actively participated in the oversupply of such drugs and fueled an illegal secondary market by failing to design and operate systems to identify suspicious orders of prescription opioids, maintain effective controls against diversion, and stop suspicious orders when they were identified.

According to the lawsuit, several of the chains used performance indicators that allegedly pushed pharmacists to write prescriptions without verifying their validity.

A spokesperson for Walgreens in Deerfield stated throughout the entire process, Walgreens never produced, advertised, or provided opioids to the online pharmacies and pill mills that stoked the problem.

He further added that the company will keep fighting back against the unwarranted criticisms of its pharmacists' professionalism from plaintiffs' attorneys because they are devoted healthcare providers who live and work in the communities they serve.

Attorneys for certain pharmacy chains have claimed that the doctors who wrote the prescriptions, not the druggists who filled them, should be held accountable in related cases that are currently being heard elsewhere in the nation.

However, according to the counties' lawsuit, the pharmacies had access to enough information to view some physicians and patients with suspicion.

According to the allegations, the warning signs included patients who received multiple prescriptions from the same doctor, patients who received prescriptions from different doctors, orders with unusually high frequency and volume and orders with abnormally large cash payments.

The Illinois criminal justice system is reportedly losing $50 million a year as a result of the opioid crisis, according to the complaint, which does not demand specific damages.

The state's attorney for McHenry County, one of the plaintiffs, said that pharmacies, like drug producers and distributors, did nothing as an influx of opioid pills led to an increase in addiction and overdoses.

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