Walmart, CVS, Walgreens ordered to pay $650M over opioid sales

Jef Feeley
Bloomberg News (TNS)
The Walgreens store at State and Randolph Streets in Chicago. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Walmart Inc., CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. were ordered to pay $650 million over their failure to properly monitor opioid prescriptions in two counties in Ohio.

A federal judge in Cleveland ruled Wednesday that the companies had to pay “abatement” fees to help local officials deal with the fallout from the public health crisis created by improper sales of millions of opioid-based painkillers.

The ruling comes after a jury found in November that the three had helped create that crisis — the drug industry’s latest loss in the expanding litigation over the painkillers.

More:Dallastown Area teachers authorize a strike a week before school year begins

More:Construction to impact I-83 traffic for the next few weekends: PennDOT

The jury backed claims by northeast Ohio’s Trumbull and Lake counties that the pharmacy chains had failed to create legally mandated monitoring systems to detect illegitimate opioid prescriptions. The counties sought reimbursement for the costs of dealing with addictions and fatal overdoses.

They had wanted the companies to pay a combined $2.4 billion to replenish depleted budgets for drug treatment, social services and police, with $1.3 billion for Trumbull and $1.1 billion for Lake, according to people familiar with their demands.