Andy Beshear has filed suit against Walgreens for their “dual role” in fueling the opioid epidemic faced throughout the state. The lawsuit claims Walgreens contributions stem from unlawful business practices. The FDA originally approved opioids for short-term pain management in patients after surgery or other instances related to trauma, as well as patients undergoing end-of-life care. Despite the original intent opioids have become commonly prescribed as treatment for chronic pain, although they’ve been found to fair worse than over-the-counter drugs in relieving chronic pain. The suit claims the dual role Walgreens played is due to dispensing unreasonable amounts of opioid medication, shipping orders to and from their own pharmacies, all while failing to report the suspicious orders to state and federal authorities.
Opioid-releated deaths in Kentucky were nearly double the national average in 2016, while healthcare providers in the state wrote 4.47 million opioid prescriptions in 2015 alone. Opioids bind to specific receptors in the brain to reduce the feeling of pain and create feelings of euphoria; however through extended use the body grows tolerant, requiring higher doses to produce the same effect. Opoiods are one of the world’s oldest used drugs, both medically and recreationally, going as far back as 3400 B.C. Morphine was isolated and marketed in the 19th century where it became the staple for doctors in the United States and around the world.
This isn’t the first time Beshear has filled a lawsuit against those profiting from drugs, previous suits have been filed against distributors, manufacturers and retailers. The goal in these lawsuits have always been to bring drug companies to court where they can be held accountable for their part in the current opioid epidemic in Kentucky, accounting for the spread of disease in addition to the countless lives taken. This latest lawsuit was filed in Boone County, as the northern part of the state has been hit particularly hard by the epidemic. The official filing can be found here, while more information on the actions Beshear has taken against drug manufacturers can be found here.