Three American drugstore chains recklessly distributed massive quantities of pain reliever pills in two Ohio counties.
A federal jury made that ruling Tuesday in a ruling that could set the tone for US city and county governments that want to hold pharmacies accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic.
Their attorney said Lake and Trumbull counties blamed CVS Pharmacies, Walgreens and Walmart for not stopping the flow of pills that caused hundreds of overdoses to die and cost each county about $1 billion (€893 million).
“The law requires pharmacies to be careful in handling medications,” district attorney Mark Lanier said. “This case should be a wake-up call that failure will not be accepted.”
“The jury rang a bell that should be heard in all drugstores in America,” Lanier added.
Lawyers for the three drugstore chains have confirmed that they have policies in place to stop the flow of pills when pharmacists have any concerns, and will notify authorities of suspicious orders from doctors.
They also said that doctors control how many pills are prescribed for legitimate medical needs.
It was the first time that pharmaceutical companies completed an experiment to defend themselves in a drug crisis that has killed at least half a million Americans in the past 20 years.
The amount pharmacies must pay in damages will be determined by a federal judge next year.