On Tuesday, a federal jury found three of America’s largest pharmacy chains – CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart – liable for fueling the opioid crisis in the nation, according to NPR.
The pharmacies will have to face legal repercussions as thousands of similar lawsuits move forward in courts across the nation, per the news outlet.
The juries concluded that these pharmacies are responsible for a so-called public nuisance in Lake and Trumbull counties in Ohio, as they were found to be selling and dispensing large quantities of prescription painkillers.
The three pharmacy chains are likely to face thousands of similar lawsuits filed by communities dealing with the opioid crisis.
Now a separate legal proceeding will take place to determine how much CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart will have to pay to help remedy the crisis. The damages are likely to run into billions of dollars.
Attorneys of Ohio counties who filed the federal lawsuit said the jury’s decision is a “milestone victory” in an attempt to hold companies responsible for causing an addiction crisis that has been killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.
The attorneys said in a statement, “For decades, pharmacy chains have watched as the pills flowing out of their doors cause harm and failed to take action as required by federal law.”
However, executives for these pharmacy chains said they did not do anything wrong. They said the pharmacies dispensed pain pills only after receiving prescriptions written by licensed medical providers.
Blasting the verdict, a Walmart spokesperson criticized the way the trial was handled by Judge Dan Polster, according to NPR.
The spokesperson said, “We will appeal this flawed verdict, which is a reflection of a trial that was engineered to favor the plaintiffs’ attorneys and was riddled with remarkable legal and factual mistakes.”
Also, a CVS Pharmacy spokesperson promised an appeal in a statement sent to NPR. The statement said, “We strongly disagree with the decision. Pharmacists fill legal prescriptions written by DEA-licensed doctors who prescribe legal, FDA-approved substances to treat actual patients in need.”
In a separate statement, Walgreens told NPR, The facts and the law do not support the verdict. We believe the trial court committed significant legal errors in allowing the case to go before a jury.”
The federal jury verdict has come at a time when efforts in state courts to hold corporations responsible for the nationwide opioid crisis that has hit major legal roadblocks.