State sues CVS Health for its alleged role in opioid epidemic

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a lawsuit on June 2 against CVS Health (CVS) for the company’s supposed role in the state’s opioid epidemic. Filed in Franklin Circuit Court, the lawsuit suggests the company engaged in unlawful business practices and failed to protect against the diversion of opioids.

“During the height of the opioid epidemic, CVS allowed millions of dosage units of opioids to flood Kentucky’s borders, fueling the crisis and devastating thousands of families and communities across the Commonwealth,” said Attorney General Cameron. “As both distributor and pharmacy, CVS was in a unique position to monitor and stop the peddling of these highly-addictive drugs from their stores, yet they ignored their own safeguard systems. By bringing this lawsuit on behalf of the people of Kentucky, we are holding CVS accountable for these decisions and for contributing to a man-made crisis that tragically led to the loss of life of thousands of Kentuckians.”

Across the Commonwealth, CVS has maintained more than 100 separate license numbers as a “wholesaler,” “out-of-state pharmacy” and “retail pharmacy.” From 2006 to 2014, Kentucky CVS pharmacies purchased over 151 million dosage units of oxycodone and hydrocodone from its own distribution centers and third-party distributors, making up nearly 6.1 percent of the total dosage units in the Commonwealth through this period.

The CVS store in Perry County bought over 6.8 million dosage units of oxycodone and hydrocodone from 2006 to 2014, which was enough opioids for every individual in the county to have over 26 pills each year during the same time frame. A Crittenden County CVS purchased more than 2.8 million dosage units of the drugs, enough to supply everyone in the county with over 34 pills every year.

Attorney General Cameron’s lawsuit proposes that since CVS serves as both a distributor and pharmacy,  the company’s compliance with the law “was vital to safeguard consumers and control the rate of addiction, abuse, and diversion of opioids.” The company had access to prescription opioid dispensing data for all of the company’s Kentucky pharmacies, including information revealing the size, frequency, dose, and combinations of prescriptions filled by each pharmacy.

From 2007 to 2014, CVS reported no suspicious orders for its stores in Kentucky.

In 2015, the CDC identified the Commonwealth as having a statistically significant drug overdose death rate increase from 2014 to 2015. That same year, drug overdoses accounted for more than 59 percent of Kentucky’s statewide accidental deaths.

The lawsuit also says that CVS improperly normalized the widespread use of opioids by marketing, advertising and promoting opioid products and working with manufacturers such as Purdue Pharma and Endo Pharmaceuticals.

Seven claims were made against CVS in the lawsuit. A copy of the complaint can be found here.

Categories: Local News, News, State News

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