A federal jury ordered CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Walmart to pay roughly $167 million to a prescription-counseling company, Shire Inc., for conspiring to illegally fill and dispense opioids for more than a decade, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
The three companies “conspired to cover up the existence of prescriptions written for controlled substances that were filled by CVS, Walgreens and Walmart pharmacies. Their scheme included making false statements on invoices and encouraging other pharmacists to fill controlled substances written for them by physician colleagues,” according to a Justice Department statement Friday.
The companies deny their participation in a conspiracy to increase pharmacy sales, the Justice Department said.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Philadelphia is the latest federal claim against drug companies accused of profiting from the surge in opioid use, a problem officials say is fueling a deadly opioid epidemic.
A similar lawsuit against Purdue Pharma — the maker of OxyContin — will go to trial Sept. 17 in Cleveland, with a verdict expected by Nov. 26.
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