Politics

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing Walgreens, saying the company helped fuel the opioid epidemic by failing to monitor large shipments of pain pills throughout the state.

Beshear said Walgreens failed to report “suspiciously large orders” it received for prescription pain pills.

“Walgreens is in a position to not only know how many pills are coming into Kentucky overall, but also how many pills are coming out of that one retail store in a county with a population that should never support that amount,” Beshear said during a news conference on Thursday.

Beshear said he filed the lawsuit in Boone County Circuit Court because of the large number of Northern Kentuckians who have died from drug overdoses.

The lawsuit is the latest of several Beshear has filed against opioid distributors and manufacturers who do business in Kentucky.

Earlier this year, Beshear filed suit against Johnson & Johnson and two of its subsidiaries for deceptive marketing of opioid painkillers.

Beshear said Walgreens’ role as both a pharmaceutical distributor and storefront pharmacy gives it a unique opportunity to monitor shipments of and demand for opioids and that the company should have done more to prevent the flood of opioids into Kentucky.

“Walgreens as a company knew not only how many opioids were flooding into Kentucky or any community, but even how many opioids were going to a single family,” Beshear said.

“That gave Walgreens real-time data and a front row seat as opioids flooded and devastated our communities.”

Delaware’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the company earlier this year, alleging the company filled forged prescriptions and didn’t crack down on high requests for pills.

This is the sixth lawsuit Beshear has filed against opioid distributors and manufacturers over the last year.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.