The United States has seen an insidious tragedy unfold in recent decades. And it is that, from the 1990s until now, the increase in addicts to opioid drugs (related, for example, to heroin or opium) has multiplied, in parallel to deaths from overdoses.
To put ourselves in context, in the last 20 years more than half a million people have lost their lives in the North American country for this reason. And the figure is growing: in 2021, according to the data kept by the country’s own government, more than 90 Americans continue to die from opioid overdoses; between April 2020 and the same month of this year, the deaths were 100,000.
And perhaps the most painful thing is that the majority of those who make up this terrible statistic consumed, or began to consume, these substances seeking relieve pain and without knowing the real risks.
Now, three pharmacy chains, among the three largest in the country, have been found responsible for fueling this crisis . For American society, this is a small victory at the judicial level, but big because of what it means and above all because of the precedent it sets and the consequences it could have.
CVS, Walmart and Walgreens
The three companies in question are Walmart, Walgreens and CVS. As the popular jury has concluded, all three caused public harm in Lake and Trumbull counties, Ohio, by deliberately ignoring the oversupply and over-prescription of opioid drugs and dispensing large quantities of them, many of them which ended up on the black market.
This result is the first to point to the retail part in the opioid production, prescription and distribution chain, and is relevant because many companies, including the protagonists of this trial, are facing hundreds of similar lawsuits throughout the country. . If, based on this precedent, these procedures are successful, companies could face damages in the billions of dollars.
However, we will have to wait to know the true result. There is still an appeal to this verdict, and there have already been lawsuits based on the same legal precepts in Oklahoma and California that have not prospered.
Look the other way
The argument that supports this sentence is that the companies in question had to be, necessarily, aware of the large quantities of opioid drugs, highly addictive and with great danger of overdose, that they were receiving and dispensing, but they did not act to avoid a ‘harm public ‘, as dictated by federal law.
For their part, the companies argue that they only sold the drugs, which include the deadly and highly potent fentanyl, under the prescription of professionals licensed to issue them.
Therefore, it is an effort to assign responsibility throughout the entire manufacturing and supply chain, which includes pharmaceutical companies, doctors and retailers.
Some manufacturers, in fact, have already been convicted. Purdue Pharma, for example, must face the payment of 12,000 million dollars for the indiscriminate sale of the drug OxyContin, which contains oxycodone, which has led the company to declare bankruptcy . At the same time, the New York Prosecutor’s Office has accused the owners, the Sackler family, of taking money from the United States to take it to Switzerland.