New Hampshire's Attorney General has filed a civil lawsuit against several pharmacy chains, claiming they helped fuel the Granite State's opioid epidemic by allowing more opioids reach the public than what could be used for legitimate medical reasons.
The suit, which was filed in Merrimack Superior Court Tuesday, alleges that pharmaceutical chains ignored red flags when dispensing the drugs. Red flags could include "distant geographic location of doctors from the pharmacy or customer, seemingly healthy patients seeking pain medications, cash transactions for these prescriptions, and other significant information," a news release from the AG's office said.
The state alleges that the defendants in the case "filled and failed to report orders that they knew or should have known were likely being diverted, and they failed to maintain effective controls against diversion from their pharmacy retail stores, causing the community to suffer foreseeable harms," according to the release.
The document names many well know brands, including CVS Pharmacy, Rite Aid Corporation and Walgreens Co. It follows an investigation into the alleged "overdistribution and dispensing" of prescription opioids in the state of New Hampshire.
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New Hampshire has been hit hard by the nationwide opioid epidemic. The Granite State had an opioid overdose death rate of 26.9 per 100,000 in 2020, according the AG's office. That's compared to 21.4 deaths per 100,000 on the national level.
“The law requires pharmacies to be diligent in distributing and dispensing controlled drugs, including highly addictive pain medications. These large pharmacy companies failed to report suspiciously large quantities being shipped into their neighborhood retail pharmacies or suspicious prescriptions to their customers,” Attorney General John Formella said. "As both drug distributors and the operators of chain pharmacy locations, these companies were in a unique position to more closely monitor the flow of these highly addictive drugs from their stores. By bringing this lawsuit, we are attempting to hold them accountable for contributing to a crisis they helped create and that tragically led to the loss of life for thousands of people throughout New Hampshire.”
New Hampshire has previously joined a national settlement with McKesson, Cardinal Health and Amerisource Bergen. The state is getting around $115 million from that settlement over 18 years. New Hampshire also has a complaint against Johnson & Johnson, which is set to go to trial in September.