Opioid crisis: CVS, Walgreens found liable for opioid sales

Story Highlights Drug sales to medically vulnerable patients grew more than nine-fold

Government survey suggests small number of doctors prescribed enough opioids to potentially illicitly sell

It may take nearly a decade for drug policy to turn tide

Federal authorities helped create the opioid crisis, a Texas jury decided on Friday, finding two drug store chains at the forefront of the nationwide abuse epidemic shared in the blame.

A jury in Dallas convicted Walgreens and CVS for their role in the drug sales to medically vulnerable patients, which fueled the boom in opioid abuse.

Many of those prescriptions involved highly addictive painkillers prescribed to patients with pain even though they weren’t eligible for prescriptions, the jury said.

The government survey suggested that only a small number of doctors prescribed enough opioids to potentially illicitly sell them. That suggests that doctors have a role in fueling the addiction crisis.

Representatives of Walgreens and CVS promised to appeal Friday’s verdict. Both drug store chains responded immediately to the opioid epidemic, beginning with calls for more regulation and placing restrictions on some opioids and drug distribution. The retailers further called for a national strategy to curb opioid abuse, which has cost lives and bankrupted communities across the country.

Walgreens carries 28 prescription opioids, 20 of which are Schedule II substances, the highest level of regulation. And CVS carries 80 Schedule II drugs, although a CVS spokeswoman said CVS only has access to the “majority” of those controlled substances.

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