The Justice Department is suing Walmart over the opiate crisis

The Justice Department is suing Walmart, claiming that the country’s largest retailer illegally distributed controlled substances through its pharmacies and helped fuel the country’s opiate crisis.

In a civil complaint filed on Tuesday, the federal government claims that Walmart pressured its pharmacists to quickly comply with opioid prescriptions, denying them the opportunity to refuse invalid prescriptions. As a result, the complainant claims, those pharmacists knowingly filled in thousands of prescriptions from “pill factories”, prescriptions for certain combinations of widely used drugs, and prescriptions that other Walmart pharmacies marked as invalid. The latter meant that “when a Walmart pharmacist acknowledged that a customer’s prescription was not valid, the customer could simply buy another pharmacist or Walmart store to complete the same or a similar prescription,” the complaint states. .

The government also accuses Walmart of failing to detect and report suspicious prescriptions to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, as required by law.

“Walmart knew its distribution centers were using an inadequate system to detect and report suspicious orders,” Jason Dunn, the U.S. attorney for Colorado, said in a call with reporters. “As a result of this inadequate system, Walmart has for years reported virtually no suspicious orders.”

Walmart operates more than 5,000 pharmacies in its stores across the country.

“As a national opioid distributor and distributor and given the large number of pharmacies it operates, Walmart has been uniquely positioned to prevent illegal opioid diversion. However, for years, as the epidemic of prescription drug abuse devastated the country, Walmart has abdicated those responsibilities, “the complaint says.

Walmart: Bad doctors are to blame

In a statement, Walmart said the government’s process “is full of factual inaccuracies and documents collected from cherries taken out of context.

“Blaming pharmacists for not guessing the doctors the Drug Administration (DEA) has approved for prescribing opioids is a transparent attempt to shift the blame for the well-documented failures of the DEA in preventing bad doctors from prescribing opioids. first of all “, it is shown in the statement, he said.

“Walmart has always empowered our pharmacists to refuse to supplement problematic opioid prescriptions, and they have refused to complete hundreds of thousands of such prescriptions. Walmart has sent DEA tens of thousands of investigative leads and we have blocked thousands of doctors who are hesitant to fill our pharmacies’ opioid prescriptions, “the statement said.

The report notes the FDA’s failure during the opiate crisis …


In October, Walmart submitted its own preventive process against the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr and the Drug Control Administration. In the process, Walmart said the Justice Department investigation – launched in 2016 – identified hundreds of doctors who wrote problematic prescriptions that Walmart pharmacists should not have completed. But the Walmart lawsuit found that nearly 70 percent of physicians still have active DEA records.

The Walmart trial claimed that the government blamed it for the lack of regulatory and enforcement policies to stop the crisis. The company is asking a federal judge to declare that the government has no grounds to seek civil damages, and its trial remains ongoing.

Bridget Brown and The Associated Press contributed to this report on CBS News.