The Justice Department Alleges That Walmart Contributed To The Opioid Crisis

Opioid Crisis

Summary: Since Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, agreed to close their company by paying $8 billion in compensation, several other investigations and legal battles have begun. The Justice Department has filed a legal case against Walmart retail and wholesale for dispensing opioids without taking a good look at prescriptions, thus blaming it for having played a role in the opioid epidemic. However, Walmart disagreed, saying it could not come in between the doctor and patients and reported suspicious prescriptions to DEA. Ultimately, such legal battles might also impact patients who need opioids to control their chronic pains.

Since the opioid epidemic has come into the limelight, things have been changing fast. New regulations and prescription guidelines have been introduced by different stakeholders. However, due to pressures from various groups, multiple investigations have also begun, and so has the blame game.

Thus, the Department of Justice now alleges that Walmart has played a significant role in the opioid crisis. Moreover, the department says that Walmart’s retail chain and distribution unit are to be blamed for the epidemic.

The Justice Department says that Walmart did not pay adequate attention to many things, and thus they broke the law. They continued to dispense opioids to hundreds and thousands of people with invalid prescriptions and failed to report suspicious opioid orders. The department has filed a legal case against Walmart in the US District Court for the District of Delaware.

The department says that as the largest pharmacy chain, it has the means to prevent violations. However, they did not take appropriate measures.

However, Walmart has blasted the Justice Department for inventing some kinds of theories. They say that doctors prescribed, and Walmart pharmacies were bound to fulfill prescriptions. Therefore, Walmart cannot come in between the doctor and the patient.

However, the Justice Department did not agree with Walmart’s explanation, saying that Walmart knew that many of those prescriptions were not for true medical purposes. Not only that, but the Justice Department also blames Walmart for failing to report these issues to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

However, Walmart did not agree with most of this, as it says there has been a failure at the end of regulatory agencies, including DEA. They say they have empowered their pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions if they find them doubtful or if the opioids were not prescribed for the right reasons. On its end, Walmart claims it has sent tens of thousands of investigative leads and blocked thousands of questionable doctors. However, DEA failed to act on these leads.

The Justice Department has been pursuing all the companies it deems responsible for the opioid epidemic. However, things changed after Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, pleaded guilty and agreed to pay more than $8 billion to close the company.

However, all these legal tussles and blame games are not good news for people living with chronic pain and struggling with opioid addiction. It means those who need opioids for chronic pain treatment would now struggle to get prescription refills and those seeking opioid addiction treatment may face difficulty as well.

There is no doubt that doctors and pharmacists should take extra care when prescribing and dispensing controlled substances. However, abuse of specific medications by some individuals should not result in the inaccessibility of these beneficial remedies for those who need them most, including those seeking chronic pain treatment or opioid addiction treatment.

It is true that the opioid epidemic has caused many issues. However, if opioids become difficult to get, many of those addicted to opioids will start using other substances. However, when it comes to people living with chronic pains, they have limited options, as in many cases, opioids are irreplaceable. Thus, if the industry becomes too hesitant to produce, pharmacies reluctant to dispense, and doctors unwilling to prescribe, millions of people would suffer from pain and other severe health issues.

Gurpreet Singh Padda, MD, MBA, MHP

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