Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Walmart sued by US over alleged role in fuelling America's opioid crisis



Victoria Bekiempis
Tue 22 Dec 2020 16.39 EST


The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Walmart on Tuesday, alleging that the retail giant filled “thousands of invalid prescriptions” for powerful painkillers, helping fuel America’s opioid crisis.

Walmart runs more than 5,000 pharmacies across the country. Until 2018, the chain was a wholesale distributor of controlled substances for its own pharmacies, giving it extensive reach into many communities.

The civil complaint points to the role Walmart’s pharmacies may have played in the crisis by filling opioid prescriptions and by unlawfully distributing controlled substances to the pharmacies during the height of the opioid crisis.


Instead, Walmart made it hard for pharmacists to abide by these regulations. Managers pressured pharmacists to fill high volumes of prescriptions as quickly as possible “while at the same time denying them the authority to categorically refuse to fill prescriptions issued by prescribers the pharmacists knew were continually issuing invalid prescriptions”, the complaint charged.

Even though Walmart’s compliance arm had amassed extensive information showing that people were repeatedly trying to get invalid narcotic prescriptions filled, the unit kept that data from pharmacists, authorities also said.

Walmart filled prescriptions from prescribers who its own pharmacists had “repeatedly reported were acting as egregious ‘pill mills’ – even when Walmart was alerted that other pharmacies were not filling prescriptions for those prescribers. In fact, some of those pill-mill prescribers specifically told their patients to fill their prescriptions at Walmart.”

So intense were the pressures on pharmacists that managers told them to “[h]ustle to the customer, hustle from station to station” because completing prescriptions “is a battle of seconds”, federal authorities alleged.

As early as 2013, Walmart adopted a plan that used the number of prescriptions processed by an employee’s store as a factor in determining if the pharmacy staffer “was entitled to monetary incentive awards”.


1 comment:

rjs said...

wonder how much time they'll do...i mean considering that a street dealer can get sent up for 10 years for selling 20 bucks worth of pot...

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