The Trump Administration and the United States Department of Justice filed a civil complaint against Walmart for allegedly unlawfully filling thousands of invalid prescriptions, as well as failing to report suspicious orders of opioids and other drugs that were placed through its pharmacies. The Justice Department is seeking billions of dollars in penalties in claiming that the massive department store has contributed heavily to the rising opioid crisis.
Authorities from the federal government have alleged “hundreds of thousands of violations” of the Controlled Substances Act, with Jeffrey Bossert Clark, the acting chief of Justice’s Civil Division, saying, “As one of the largest pharmacy chains and wholesale drug distributors in the country, Walmart had the responsibility and the means to help prevent the diversion of prescription opioids. Instead, for years, it did the opposite … This unlawful conduct contributed to the epidemic of opioid abuse throughout the United States.”
Justice Department Sues Walmart For Its Part In Opioid Epidemic
The acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Timothy Shea, also explained that the retailer’s pharmacies have been filling illegitimate prescriptions, saying, “Too many lives have been lost because of oversight failures and those entrusted with responsibility turning a blind eye.”
This civil complaint is a result of a years-long Justice Department’s investigation by the Prescription Interdiction & Litigation Task Force of how the retail giant has been filling opioid prescriptions, ignoring warnings from even its very own doctors and pharmacists, according to the Wall Street Journal. Federal officials said, “As the operator of its pharmacies, Walmart knowingly filled thousands of controlled substance prescriptions that were not issued for legitimate medical purposes or in the usual course of medical practice, and that it filled prescriptions outside the ordinary course of pharmacy practice.”
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Daniel J. Feith of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch commented on Walmart’s distribution centers saying, “For years, Walmart failed to meet its obligations in distributing and dispensing dangerous opioids and other drugs. We look forward to advancing this case with our DOJ partners,” and U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware David C. Weiss also said, “The misuse of prescription painkillers is a public health crisis. DEA registrants must understand that licensure is a privilege, not a right. Whenever that privilege is abused, whether by the smallest local provider or the largest national chain, our office and the Department of Justice will take all necessary steps to enforce the law and keep the public safe.”
So what does this mean for one of America’s biggest department stores? Well, according to the civil complaint, if Walmart is found liable, the company could face, “up to $67,627 for each unlawful prescription filled and $15,691 for each suspicious order not reported. The court may also award injunctive relief to prevent Walmart from committing further CSA violations.”