Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a lawsuit Thursday in Boone County Circuit Court against Walgreens, alleging that it failed to legally monitor its operations that shipped and dispensed large amounts of opioids through its more than 70 stores throughout the state.
The lawsuit alleges that the national pharmacy chain engaged in unfair, misleading and deceptive business practices by excessively distributing and dispensing opioids in the state and failing to report the “suspiciously large orders” it received to state and federal authorities, thus playing a role in Kentucky’s deadly and costly opioid epidemic.
“As Attorney General, my job is to hold accountable anyone who harms our families,” stated Beshear in a news release announcing the lawsuit. “While Walgreens’ slogan was ‘at the corner of happy and healthy,’ they have significantly harmed the health of our families in fueling the opioid epidemic.”
In his press conference Thursday morning announcing the lawsuit, Beshear highlighted Walgreens’ dual role as both a distributor and a pharmacy, which he said means the company “knew not only how many opioids were flooding into Kentucky or any community but even how many opioids were going to a single family. That gave Walgreens real-time data and a front row seat as opioids flooded and devastated our communities.”
He added that the company shipped such a large amount of opioids in that state that “any reasonable company — and certainly a company that claims it is a health care company — would know that it was wrong and that it needed to stop … but Walgreens did not stop.”
Beshear made a point of noting that Walgreens second-quarter sales topped $33 billion this year, saying that the company must now be forced to invest in Kentucky’s efforts to recover from its widespread opioid addiction.
According to Beshear, Kentucky is just the second state to sue Walgreens over their alleged role in the national opioid epidemic.
This is the sixth lawsuit that Beshear has filed against a company related to the distribution of opioids in the state.
Walgreens spokesman Jim Graham told Insider Louisville in a statement Thursday afternoon that the company is declining to comment because the matter is the subject of pending litigation.
This story has been updated.