Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) is accusing CVS Health of “fueling” the opioid crisis in the state in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
Cameron sued the health care company in Franklin Circuit Court, alleging that its “unlawful business practices” and failure to “protect against diversion of opioids” contributed to Kentucky’s epidemic.
The lawsuit states that CVS pharmacies in Kentucky purchased more than 151 million dosage units of oxycodone and hydrocodone from their own distribution centers and third-party distributors between 2006 and 2014, which at the time accounted for about 6.1 percent of dosage units in the state. was.
“As both a distributor and a pharmacy, CVS was in a unique position to monitor and prevent these highly addictive drugs from their stores, yet they overlooked their security systems,” Cameron said in a statement.
“By bringing this lawsuit on behalf of the people of Kentucky, we are holding CVS responsible for these decisions and for contributing to the man-made crisis that has cost thousands of Kentucky lives,” he said.
Cameron specifically highlighted two CVS stores, one in Perry County that purchased more than 6.8 million oxycodone and hydrocodone dosage units between 2006 and 2014. This would be enough for each county resident to take 26 pills each year.
According to the lawsuit, another CVS in Crittenden County purchased more than 2.8 million dosage units, enough for more than 34 pills a year for each person.
CVS did not report any suspicious orders for its Kentucky stores between 2007 and 2014. The following year, drug overdoses accounted for more than 59 percent of the state’s accidental deaths.
The lawsuit also alleges that CVS “unreasonably normalized the widespread use of opioids” through its involvement in the marketing and advertising of opioid products, including from manufacturers such as Purdue Pharma and Endo Pharmaceuticals.
CVS Health told The Hill in a statement that it stands ready to defend the charges against the lawsuit.
“Opioids are made and sold by drug manufacturers, not pharmacies,” the statement said. “Pharmacists dispense opioid prescriptions written by licensed physicians for legitimate medical need. Pharmacists do not – and cannot – write prescriptions.”
The health care company said it has invested in fighting opioid abuse and abuse through educational programs, safe drug disposal sites and increased access to overdose reversal drugs.
Former Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear (D), now governor, filed a similar lawsuit against Walgreens in 2018, saying the company made the pandemic worse.
National Institute on Drug Abuse Kentucky ranked ninth for the most opioid deaths in 2018, with 23.4 deaths per 100,000 people in the latest available data. It also had the fourth highest number of opioid prescriptions per 100 people, with 79.5.
The Bluegrass State also saw a jump in overdose deaths during the pandemic last year. Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a 53.1 percent increase in estimated cases in the 12-month period ending October 2020 compared to the previous year.
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