Jury finds CVS, Walgreen’s and Walmart had hand in fueling fatal opioid overdoses

November 2021

Coming off a record year for opioid deaths in the United States, a federal jury in Cleveland has placed a share of the blame on CVS, Walgreen’s and Walmart.

Jurors heard six weeks of testimony and deliberated for the better part of six days before agreeing that the retail sector had a hand in opioid overdoses in two counties in Ohio. The plaintiffs had agued that those pharmacy operators had disregarded clear indications that some orders were illegitimate, and that the companies did too little in response to that evidence.

Since 1999, an estimated 841,000 Americans have died of drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and opioid abuse has been labeled a prime suspect. Thousands of similar lawsuits have been filed, alleging that the companies knowingly contributed to a public nuisance.

Although plaintiffs attorneys say they are seeking $1 billion for each of the two Ohio counties bringing the claim, financial damages in the case have not been set. The court will make that determination following hearings in early 2022.