Kentucky sues Walgreens for its alleged role in the opioid crisis

  • Kentucky has sued Walgreens for its role in the state's opioid epidemic.
  • Attorney General Andy Beshear filed the suit against Walgreens for its dual role as a distributor and a pharmacy, saying it allegedly failed to monitor its own operations and shipped and dispensed large amounts of opioids.
Pedestrians pass in front of a Walgreens store in Chicago.
Christopher Dilts | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians pass in front of a Walgreens store in Chicago.

Kentucky has sued Walgreens for its role in the state's opioid epidemic.

Attorney General Andy Beshear filed the suit against Walgreens for its dual role as a distributor and a pharmacy, saying it allegedly failed to monitor its own operations and shipped and dispensed large amounts of opioids.

Beshear said Walgreens flooded Kentucky with opioid prescriptions at its more than 70 locations across the state, "directly contributing to the state's drug epidemic." The lawsuit alleges "unfair, misleading and deceptive business practices by Walgreens for excessively distributing and dispensing opioids in Kentucky and for failing to legally report to state and federal authorities the suspiciously large orders it received for prescription opioids."

A spokesman for Walgreens Boots Alliance declined to comment on pending litigation.

This is the sixth opioid-related suit Beshear has filed. He's sued three drug distributors, AmerisourceBergen, which Walgreens Boots Alliance owns a roughly 26 percent stake in, McKesson and Cardinal Health. He's also sued pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson.

Cities, counties and states around the country are suing companies across the drug supply chain for their alleged roles in the opioid epidemic. They've accused manufacturers of downplaying painkillers' risk of addiction, distributors of allegedly flooding communities with pills and pharmacies for allegedly failing to flag suspicious prescriptions.

Kentucky has been one of the states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic that has ravaged communities across the country. The state's opioid-related overdose death rate was nearly double the national rate in 2016, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.