On Monday, the United States filed a lawsuit against Rite Aid and several of its affiliates, claiming that they knew that their pharmacists had filled hundreds of thousands of unlawful prescriptions for prohibited narcotics over a period of years, contributing to the opioid epidemic.
One of the largest retail pharmacies in the nation is accused in the complaint, which was submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, of not only filling the prescriptions despite warning signs being raised, but also of being aware of the situation and acting to remove internal alerts about suspect prescribers.
“The Justice Department is using every tool at our disposal to tackle the opioid epidemic that is killing Americans and breaking communities across the country,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “It also comprises holding companies,like Rite Aid, accountable for knowingly filling unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances.”
Pharmaceutical firms, including retail pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, have settled thousands of lawsuits with states for millions of dollars, and in some cases billions of dollars, while while facing their own litigation from federal prosecutors. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against AmerisourceBergen, one of the biggest medication manufacturers, in late 2017 based on charges that were identical to those it made Monday against Rite Aid.
Prosecutors claim in the lawsuit filed on Monday that Rite Aid filled the prescriptions from May 1, 2014, to June 10, 2019, despite clear and frequently repeated warning signs of misuse linked to the prescriber, the patient, or a combination of both.
According to the document, the in question medications were either given improperly, lacked a medically acceptable indiction, or were medically unnecessary.