W.Va. Attorney General Sues Walmart, CVS for Failing to Stem Opioid Epidemic

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed lawsuits against Walmart and CVS alleging the two opioid distributors should pay for helping create the state’s opioid epidemic and act to remediate what became a public health and financial crisis.

   The lawsuits allege Walmart and CVS, as individual distributors, supplied far more opioids to their retail pharmacies than necessary to meet a legitimate market, and not even that was enough as the retail pharmacies ordered additional pills from other distributors to fulfill demand.

   The Attorney General contends Walmart and CVS each knew its obligation to halt suspicious orders to its retail pharmacies, but failed to monitor for and report such activity

   “We must hold everyone accountable for the roles they played in the opioid epidemic and continue to push toward solutions that go after the root cause of the problem,” Attorney General Morrisey said.

   Walmart and CVS were each among the state’s top 10 opioid distributors from 2006 to 2014.

   The civil complaints, filed Tuesday in Putnam County Circuit Court, do not assert claims related to either company’s role in dispensing opioids to patients, but maintain that such retail data offered Walmart and CVS unique knowledge and notice that their operations were meeting more than a legitimate market demand.

   Rather than report suspicious orders and stop diversion, the lawsuits allege Walmart and CVS continued to sell, ship and profit from the highly dangerous and addictive prescription painkillers.

   The lawsuits allege conduct by Walmart and CVS violated the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act and caused a public nuisance. Both lawsuits seek injunctive and equitable relief.

   The Attorney General filed similar lawsuits in June against Rite-Aid and Walgreens, and those filings followed others last year against opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions Inc. and Mallinckrodt LLC.