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Class action over opioid prescriptions filed against Walmart


An opioid-related putative class action securities litigation lawsuit has been filed against Walmart Inc., charging it with boosting its pharmacy revenues by knowingly filling thousands of invalid prescriptions.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Wilmington in Richard Stanton v. Walmart Inc. et al., cites a Dec. 22 Department of Justice press release that accused the retailer of fueling the opioid crisis and ignoring warning signs from its pharmacists. The lawsuit was first reported by the D&O Diary blog.

Walmart said in a statement, “We take these matters seriously. We disagree with the allegations in the complaint, and we will defend this matter vigorously.”

In an echo of the Department of Justice complaint, the lawsuit, which charges the company with violating federal securities law, says Walmart inflated its pharmacy revenues, and failed to disclose that it “knowingly filed prescription that were issued by so-called ‘pill-mill’ prescribers”; filled thousands of prescriptions “that showed obvious red flags, including high-dangerous cocktails of drugs”; and that the company’s managers made it difficult for Walmart pharmacists to comply with their legal obligations by pressuring them to fulfil as many orders as possible.

The lawsuit says Walmart’s stock price fell $2.75 per share, or 1.88%, to close at $144.20 in the two trading days following the Department of Justice’s release.

It was filed on behalf of shareholders who purchased the company’s securities between March 30, 2016, and Dec. 22, 2020.

In a statement issued after the Department of Justice complaint was filed, Walmart had said, “The Justice Department’s investigation is tainted by historical ethics violations, and this lawsuit invents a legal theory that unlawfully forces pharmacists to come between patients and their doctors, and is riddled with factual inaccuracies and cherry-picked documents taken out of context.”

In October, Walmart had filed suit against the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration in Walmart Inc. v. DOJ, et al., asking the U.S. District Court in Sherman, Texas to clarify the roles and responsibilities of pharmacists and pharmacies under the Controlled Substances Act. A hearing on a motion to dismiss the case is scheduled for Tuesday.






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