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Pharmacy owes two Ohio counties $650 million in opioid lawsuit: Judge

Cleveland — A federal judge in Cleveland ruled Wednesday awarding $650 million in damages to two Ohio counties. The county won a landmark lawsuit againstnational pharmacy chainsCVS, Walgreens and Walmart. They distributed opioids to their customers, causing serious community harm and causing public nuisance. said it will be used to mitigate the ongoing opioid crisis in Trumbull County.County attorneys estimate the total damage done to the county at $3 billion.

Lake County expects him to receive $306 million over 15 years. Trumbull County expects him to receive $344 million over the same period. Polster immediately ordered the company to pay about $87 million to cover his first two years of the curtailment plan.

Polster said in its ruling that it "wasted an opportunity to present a meaningful plan to mitigate nuisance" after a trial that considered the damages the three companies could incur.

CVS, Walmart and Walgreens said they would appeal the ruling.

Lake County will receive $306 million and Trumbull County is to receive $344 million over the next 15 years from the companies.
AP Photos/Files

Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda said in a statement: Praising the award and being able to address "the harm caused by this devastating epidemic".

Lake County Commissioner John Hammercheck said in his statement, "Today marks the beginning of another day in our fight to end the opioid epidemic." said.

A jury returned a verdict in November in favor of the county after a six-week trial. It then fell to Pollster to determine how much money the county would receive from her three pharmacy companies. He heard the testimony of in his May and determined damages.

The county convinced jurors that pharmacies played a very large role in creating public nuisance in the way they dispensed pain relievers to communities.

It was the first time a pharmaceutical company had completed a trial to defend itself in the drug crisis that has killed half a million Americans since 1999.

A pharmacy chain lawyer claimed it had a policy to stop the flow of pills if pharmacists were concerned, and planned to notify authorities of suspicious orders from doctors.He also stated that it was the doctors who controlled the number of tablets prescribed for legitimate medical needs, not their pharmacies.

Walmart issued a statement on Wednesday saying county attorneys "sued Walmart for ample funds. The ruling follows a trial designed to favor plaintiffs' attorneys. It was riddled with startling legal and factual errors.”

Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman said, “The facts and the law dictated the judgment of jurors last fall. It does not uphold the verdict and does not uphold the current court decision.

"The court held before a jury based on a flawed legal theory inconsistent with Ohio law." We made serious legal errors in allowing the lawsuit to be filed, and compounded those errors in reaching the judgment on damages."

CVS spokesperson Michael DeAngelis said. , said it "strongly disagrees with the court's decision on the county's reduction plan and the underlying ruling last fall."

CVS has offices in Walgreens, Rhode Island, Illinois, and Walmart, Arkansas.

Two chains — Rite Aid and Giant Eagle — settled their lawsuits with the county before trial. The amount they paid was not made public.

County Attorney Mark Lanier said during the trial that the pharmacy was trying to blame everyone but himself. Overwhelming courts, social services, and law enforcement in Ohio's blue-collar corner, leaving behind babies born to grief-stricken families and addicted mothers, Lanier told jurors.

Between 2012 and 2016, approximately 80 million prescription pain relievers were dispensed in Trumbull County alone. This equates to 400 per inhabitant. Lake County distributed approximately 61 million pills during this period.

The rise in doctors prescribing pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone is due to medical groups beginning to recognize that patients have a right to pain treatment, said a Walgreens attorney. One Kaspar Stoffelmayr said at the beginning of the trial.

The problem, he said, was that "pharmaceutical companies tricked doctors into writing too many pills."

Counties said pharmacies should be the last line of defense to keep drugs from falling into the wrong hands.

Polster's previous trial was part of a wider range of approximately 3,000 federal opioid lawsuits consolidated under his supervision. Other lawsuits are pending in state court.

Kevin Roy, chief public policy officer for Shatterproof, an organization that advocates for addiction solutions, said in November that the ruling would force pharmacies to sell to large distributors and some He said it could go down the path of pharmaceutical companies. The multi-billion dollar opioid case. So far, no pharmacy has reached a nationwide settlement.

Also on Wednesday, many state attorneys general said he would pay $450 million over 10 years to settle allegations that Endo International plc used deceptive marketing techniques. announced that it had reached an agreement.

Based in Ireland, Endo's US headquarters are in Malvern, Pennsylvania. The company didn't respond to a call or email seeking comment Wednesday.

The agreement calls for the distribution of $450 million to participating states and communities. It also asks Endo to make opioid-related documents publicly available online and for him to pay $2.75 million to publicly archive these documents.

Endo produces a number of opioid drugs.
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File


The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday night.

Endo manufactures generic opioids and carries brand names such as Percocet and Endocet. The company's Opana ER opioid was withdrawn from the market in 2017. The Attorney General says Endo "misrepresented the benefits" of his Opana ER "so-called anti-abuse formulation." The Attorney General said prescriptions did not deter drug abuse and that people injected drugs, resulting in deadly outbreaks of hepatitis and HIV.