Walmart sued for allegedly fueling opioid crisis

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The Justice Department is suing Walmart, alleging the country’s largest retailer unlawfully dispensed controlled substances through its pharmacies and helped fuel the nation’s opioid crisis in America.

In a civil complaint filed Tuesday, the federal government alleges Walmart pressured its pharmacists to fill opioid prescriptions quickly, denying them the ability to refuse invalid prescriptions, even those prescriptions they flagged as coming from known “pill mills.” Walmart also failed to detect and report suspicious prescriptions to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the complaint.

“[G]iven the nationwide scale of those violations, Walmart’s failures to follow basic legal rules helped fuel a national crisis,” the complaint reads.

Walmart operates more than 5,000 pharmacies in its stores around the country.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit comes nearly two months after Walmart filed its own preemptive suit against the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In its lawsuit, Walmart said the Justice Department’s investigation — launched in 2016 — had identified hundreds of doctors who wrote problematic prescriptions that Walmart’s pharmacists should not have filled. But the Walmart lawsuit charged that nearly 70% of the doctors still have active registrations with the DEA.

Walmart’s lawsuit alleged the government was blaming it for the lack of regulatory and enforcement policies to stem the crisis. The company is asking a federal judge to declare the government has no basis to seek civil damages, and its suit remains ongoing.

This is a developing story.

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