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Latest news and updates about the Medicare and pharmacy industries.

January 10: Pharmacy Chains Sue Ohio Doctors Over Opioid Crisis

Posted on January 10, 2020 by Amplicare Team

Plus, the latest pharmacy and healthcare news to know this week

The Story

Major pharmacy chains are suing doctors in two Ohio counties for their role in the opioid crisis. The chains, which include Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and Walmart, say doctors have over prescribed opioids and should be held accountable.

Why It Matters

The pharmacies in question are themselves being sued by Summit and Cuyahoga counties in Ohio for similar reasons. The federal suit brought against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies is seeking financial compensation for the consequences of the opioid epidemic. But the drugstore chains argue that doctors, who aren’t named in the counties’ suit, should be liable if pharmacies are. According to The Hill, the group also took issue with the fact that other pharmacies, including “pill mills” and pain clinics, were not added to the suit despite the high percentage of opioids they dispensed.

The pharmacies’ lawsuit is an interesting turn of events in the ongoing effort to assign blame for the opioid crisis. Last October, three drug distributors and a drug manufacturer settled a suit brought by the same two counties. According to the terms of the deal, the companies would pay the counties about $260 million, paid out in a combination of cash and addiction and overdose treatment drugs. In Oklahoma, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay the state $572 million for downplaying the dangers of opioids after being the first drug manufacturer to go to trial. Other companies sued by Oklahoma — Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals — settled with the state to avoid trial. 

The trial against the pharmacies is scheduled to begin this coming October and parties have been encouraged to settle. As the situation plays out, it underscores the need for all members of the healthcare team to work more closely together for the benefit of the patient. This increased collaboration is among the efforts that healthcare professionals have made to educate patients about risks and reduce the reliance on opioids, even as they recognize that there is still more work to be done. 

Other important news to know:

1. Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk have each announced plans to help people struggling to pay for insulin. MarketWatch.

2. A new deal will allow more companies to manufacture a nasal spray version of an opioid overdose drug. AP News.

3. Alcohol-related deaths have more than doubled in the past 20 years. Health News Florida.

4. The CDC warns of a potentially severe flu season. The New York Times.

5. A new study suggests that the pharmacy benefit of the Veterans Health Administration could be a good model for making prescription drugs more accessible and affordable. EurekAlert.

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