Washington The US government is suing the largest American retailer for its role in the opioid crisis. The US Department of Justice said Tuesday in Washington that Walmart was accused of illegally selling addictive pain relievers, thereby contributing to the devastating opioid epidemic in the US. According to the justice department, the company could face fines running into billions.
As one of the largest pharmacy chains and a wholesaler of pharmaceuticals, Walmart would have had the responsibility and also the means to fight against the spread of such preparations, argued the ministry. However, the company did the opposite – over the years, it had issued thousands of drugs despite invalid prescriptions and failed to report suspicious orders to the authorities. The group has drawn a “substantial benefit” from this, but has exacerbated the consequences of the crisis. With this, Walmart violated its obligations to dispense medication.
Walmart denies allegations
For its part, Walmart had already taken legal action against the US government at the end of October to clarify whether drug dealers could be held responsible. The company thus preempted the government’s lawsuit. The company argues that employees were only doing their duty, offering drugs that were prescribed to customers by doctors approved by the US authorities.
On Tuesday, Walmart responded with severe criticism of the lawsuit and dismissed the allegations. The US drug enforcement agency DEA failed in the opioid crisis by failing to prevent doctors from improperly prescribing opioids. Now Walmart is being blamed. The lawsuit invented an incomprehensible legal theory and was full of factual inaccuracies.