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Kentucky attorney general sues Walgreens, alleges company is adding to state's opioid crisis

Kentucky's attorney general is suing Walgreens because the company allegedly failed to properly monitor large shipments and sales of opioids through its more than 70 locations statewide. (jetcityimage/Getty Images)

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a lawsuit Thursday against Walgreens, claiming the company allegedly failed to properly monitor large shipments and sales of opioids through its more than 70 locations statewide.

What does the lawsuit say?

According to Beshear, the company “flooded Kentucky communities with dangerous prescription drugs, directly contributing to the state’s drug epidemic.”

Beshear has said he wants to hold opioid manufacturers and distributors more accountable. He also believes the companies should be working to find solutions to the drug epidemic, WLEX-TV reported.

The lawsuit alleges Walgreens used misleading, unfair, and deceptive business practices in “excessively” distributing and dispensing opioids in Kentucky. Also, it claims the company failed to report "suspiciously large orders" to state and federal officials. It is required by law to report such orders to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Other examples of suspicious orders include customers traveling long distances to fill prescriptions or doctors prescribing outside of the scope of their regular practice, the report states.

“As attorney general, my job is to hold accountable anyone who harms our families,” Beshear said. “While Walgreens’ slogan was ‘at the corner of happy and healthy,’ they have significantly harmed the health of our families in fueling the opioid epidemic.”

Beshear said he filed the lawsuit in Boone County due to high numbers of Kentuckians who have died from overdoses in northern Kentucky.

“While the pain of addiction and loss of a loved one may never heal, I want to make sure these billion dollar companies take responsibility and become a part of the solution,” Beshear said.

A spokesman for Walgreens Boots Alliance, the parent company, declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Walgreens had sales of more than $33 billion in 2018 second quarter sales. Yet it did not use its position as a prominent pharmacy and distributor to prevent opioids from “flooding” Kentucky, the lawsuit alleges.

How does Walgreens track the sales?

The company can track the number of pills and pill types in real time at its stores.

According to Beshear, Walgreens knew or should have known about Kentucky’s high rates of suspicious opioid shipments and prescriptions, which correlate with “abuse, misuse and diversion” of prescription opioids.

Thursday marks the sixth opioid-related lawsuit that Beshear has filed, according to the report.

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