UTAH (ABC4) – Last week, the Utah Attorney General filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state of Utah against pharmaceutical retailers Walgreens, Smith’s/Kroger, and Rite-Aid for “improperly distributing pain medications.”
The lawsuit alleges that the three companies improperly distributed prescription pain medication, actively exacerbating the opioid crisis while working together to increase profits and lobby against restrictions to use and enforcement.
One claim the lawsuit makes is that Walgreens stores were receiving so many deliveries from manufacturers that the stores ran out of space, forcing them to store boxes in unsecured locations.
The suit states the corporate office was receiving bonuses and incentives based on the number and speed of prescriptions filled.
The state also claims that Smith’s failed to report suspicious orders “or otherwise control the supply of opioids flowing into Utah.” Smith’s allegedly knew that people were traveling long distances to see prescribers or fill prescriptions.
Those prescriptions were then filled for drug “cocktails” known for their misuse potentials, such as oxycodone and benzodiazepine.
Customers were receiving multiple prescriptions and paying for them in cash.
One example the suit brings to light is a Smith’s store in Price, Utah.
Price has a population of 8,216 people, and the store had a higher-than-average amount of pills purchased. Smith’s allegedly bought enough oxycodone and hydrocodone over seven years to supply 71 pills per person in the community.
The lawsuit is asking for payment for the reduction of opioid use disorder and to pay damages as required.