Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi is suing Walgreens and CVS, the two largest drugstores in the country, for their alleged involvement in the opioid crisis.
Bondi’s office announced in a statement on Friday that she was adding the two companies to an existing state-court lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and other opioid distributors, the Associated Press reported.
“We will continue to pursue those companies that played a role in creating the opioid crisis,” Bondi said in the statement. “Thousands of Floridians have suffered as a result of the actions of the defendants.”
The lawsuit says that Walgreens and CVS were two of the largest distributors of opioids in the state, and that they did not do enough to stop illegal sales, while adding to the larger opioid problem by overselling painkillers. More specifically, the lawsuit states that Walgreens distributed billions of painkillers in the state since 2006, Quartz reported.
“Walgreens has violated its obligations under Florida law as both a large-scale distributor and a large-scale pharmacy to prevent abuse,” according to the lawsuit.
Bondi, who is being considered as a replacement for former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said in her press release that her office will “continue to pursue those companies that played a role in creating the opioid crisis” and that “thousands of Floridians have suffered as a result of the actions of the defendants.”
The Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency due to opioid deaths in 2017, and the prior year, the department recorded 42,000 deaths from opioids, the highest rate of opioid deaths ever. The lawsuit says that 5,725 of those deaths were Floridians, and between 1999 and 2016, more than 200,000 people died from an overdose due to prescription opioids.
CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis told the Associated Press that the lawsuit is “without merit,” in a Saturday statement on the matter. “Over the past several years, CVS has taken numerous actions to strengthen our existing safeguards to help address the nation’s opioid epidemic,” DeAngelis said.
Walgreens did not comment on the lawsuit.