Florida suing CVS, Walgreens over opioid sales, says stores turned blind eye to epidemic

In a bold move in the fight against opioid abuse, the state of Florida announced earlier this year that it was filing suit against giant retail chains CVS and Walgreens.

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Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi said the drugstores played a role in the opioid crisis by failing to stop "suspicious orders of opioids" and dispensing "unreasonable quantities."

According to the lawsuit, Walgreens' opioid sales jumped sixfold in some stores over a two-year period. The suit also contends CVS sold 700 million doses from 2014 to 2016.

The state is blaming the drugstore chains for “their roles in creating the opioid crisis,” and accuses the pharmacies of turning a blind eye to the devastating epidemic.

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The suit alleges “… Walgreens and CVS joined the race to sell as many opioids as possible,” and that the drug store chains “failed to train or instruct their employees … to prevent diversion of opioids.”

CVS called the lawsuit "without merit." Walgreens declined to comment, but took steps last year to try and keep pills out of the wrong hands.

“We want to make sure we provide a safe way for the community to drop off, instead of leaving it on the street or for someone else unintended to get it at home,” Ivy Kwapong with Walgreens Pharmacy said in an interview last year.

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President Donald Trump recently signed a package of opioid-relief bills into law. The legislation calls on federal agencies to create guidelines for when pharmacists can refuse to fill opioid prescriptions.

Shelby Lin Erdman contributed to this report.

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