Department of Justice Sues Walmart for Alleged Contribution to Opioid Crisis

The US Justice Department initiated a lawsuit against retail giant Walmart on Tuesday, accusing the company of unlawfully dispensing controlled opioid substances from its store pharmacies across the United States. The government alleges Walmart’s participation in distributing and dispensing the highly addictive substance has contributed to the massive opioid crisis which has had a crippling effect on many families. The civil case has the potential to cost Walmart billions of dollars in damages, according to officials at the Justice Department.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Bossert Clark issued a statement saying because Walmart is the largest drug wholesaler and pharmacy chain in America, they have a responsibility to help prevent dispensing opioid prescription drugs unlawfully. The Civil Division representative also stated that Walmart, in their opinion, did the exact opposite, calling their actions a major contributor to the nationwide opioid abuse epidemic.

The filing is a first step in what the department views as a remedy “to hold Walmart accountable for such conduct.” If the company is found to be liable in the case, it faces penalties of close to $68,000 for each prescription unlawfully filed as well as nearly $16,000 for every suspicious order they received and failed to report. The case was filed in a Delaware court on Tuesday after several years of investigation. Walmart issued a statement in defense of their position, saying the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) itself is at fault and should be held accountable.