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9 Jan 2020

Lenny Bernstein, The Washington Post

USA: Pharmacies involved in opioid litigation file subsequent lawsuit against physicians for their role in prescribing opioids

"Major drugstore chains sue doctors in sprawling federal opioid case" 8 Jan 2020

Major drugstore chains — which face an October trial in the mammoth federal opioid litigation — have sued doctors across northeast Ohio, claiming that physicians are the real culprits in the nation’s deadly drug epidemic.

CVS, Walgreen Co., Walmart, Rite Aid and other major pharmacy chains said opioid prescribers bear responsibility for the prescription narcotic crisis, but unlike the drugstores, have not been sued by Cuyahoga and Summit counties. In legal papers filed Monday, they contended that doctors and other prescribers should have to pay some of the penalty if the drugstore chains are found liable at trial.

The doctors in the nearly identical lawsuits are unnamed, identified only as “John and Jane Does 1-500.” The drugstores said they would name them if it became apparent during legal proceedings who they are.

“In a misguided hunt for deep pockets, without regard to actual fault or liability, plaintiff has elected not to sue any of these other parties,” attorneys for drugstore chains said in the papers.

Drug manufacturers and distributors agreed or were ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and one court verdict reached in state and federal courts last year. But the big pharmacy chains have not been held liable so far...

“This complaint is required to respond to the unsubstantiated allegations by plaintiffs that pharmacists should not have filled prescriptions, written by doctors, for FDA-approved opioid medications,” Phil Caruso, a spokesman for Walgreen Co., said in an email Tuesday. “We strongly believe that the overwhelming majority of prescriptions dispensed were properly prescribed by doctors to meet the legitimate needs of their patients.”