Oct. 2, 2021 – In a bellwether federal trial starting Monday in Cleveland, Lake and Trumbull counties will try to convince a jury that the retail pharmacy companies played an outsized role in creating a public nuisance in the way they dispensed pain medication into their communities.

This will be the first time pharmacy companies, in this case CVS, Walgreens, Giant Eagle and Walmart, have gone to trial to defend themselves in the nation’s ongoing legal reckoning over the opioid crisis. The trial, which is expected to last around six weeks, could set the tone for similar lawsuits against retail pharmacy chains by government entities across the U.S.

The trial will center on the harm to the counties and the response by the pharmacy chains, which have argued in court filings that their pharmacists were merely filling prescriptions written by physicians for legitimate medical needs. The trial also has a human dimension, watched closely by those whose family members are part of the roughly 500,000 Americans whose deaths are attributed to opioid abuse over the past two decades.

“People need to realize that drug addiction is a family disease, and everyone in the family is affected by it,” said Sharon Grover, whose daughter died after becoming addicted to prescription pain pills and then heroin. “I’m never going to be the same.”


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