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Walmart Accused Of Fueling Opioid Crisis In U.S.

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The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Walmart alleging that the company unlawfully dispensed controlled substances through its pharmacies and fueled the opioid crisis. It seeks civil penalties that could total in the billions of dollars.

Responding to the lawsuit, Walmart said that the Justice Department's investigation is tainted by historical ethics violations, and the lawsuit invents a legal theory that unlawfully forces pharmacists to come between patients and their doctors.

Walmart also alleged that the lawsuit is riddled with factual inaccuracies and cherry-picked documents taken out of context.

The Justice Department's complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, alleged that 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.

The complaint also alleged that as the operator of its distribution centers, Walmart received hundreds of thousands of suspicious orders that it failed to report as required to by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Therefore, the complaint said that the unlawful conduct resulted in hundreds of thousands of violations of the Controlled Substances Act. It seeks civil penalties, which could total in the billions of dollars, and injunctive relief.

If Walmart is found liable for violating the rule, it could face civil penalties of up to $67,627 for each unlawful prescription filled and $15,691 for each suspicious order not reported. The court also may award injunctive relief to prevent Walmart from committing further violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

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