On October 22, 2020, Walmart Pharmacy sued the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and asking a federal court to clarify the roles and responsibilities of pharmacists and pharmacies under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). At this moment case of Walmart Inc. v. DOJ, et al. is pending before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
In a statement, the company said:
“Walmart and our pharmacists are committed to helping address the opioid crisis that has affected so many. We are proud of our pharmacists, who help patients understand the risks about opioid prescriptions, and who have refused to fill hundreds of thousands of opioid prescriptions they thought could be problematic. With the help of a team of investigators and experts, Walmart has also blocked thousands of questionable doctors from having their opioid prescriptions filled by any of our pharmacists, and we frequently assist law enforcement in bringing bad doctors to justice.”
To date not only Walmart Inc. are talk about opioid crisis in U. S., Purdue Pharma have trial with Justice Department too.
“The American Medical Association recommends that any settlement or judgment stemming from opioid-related litigation be used exclusively for data collection, research, education, overdose prevention, stigma elimination, and evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and pain,” – AMA said.
“The nation now is facing a more complicated and deadly drug overdose epidemic due to illicit fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. Death due to prescription opioids remains too high even though proven treatment for opioid use disorder exists. Too few states have taken steps to remove barriers to evidence-based treatment for pain and substance use disorders—barriers often erected by health insurers,” – association continue.
Why Walmart Pharmacy Sued DOJ
According to the information, that Walmart published for media, the main conflict starts because of demand of DOJ to pharmacists, who should have refused to fill otherwise valid opioid prescriptions
“Unfortunately, certain DOJ officials have long seemed more focused on chasing headlines than fixing the crisis. They are now threatening a completely unjustified lawsuit against Walmart, claiming in hindsight pharmacists should have refused to fill otherwise valid opioid prescriptions that were written by the very doctors that the federal government still approves to write prescriptions,” – the company commented.
The lawsuit was started based on the fact that there is no federal law requiring pharmacists to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship to the degree DOJ is demanding.
“DOJ is forcing Walmart and our pharmacists between a rock and a hard place. At the same time that DOJ is threatening to sue Walmart for not going even further in second-guessing doctors, state health regulators are threatening Walmart and our pharmacists for going too far and interfering in the doctor-patient relationship. Doctors and patients also bring lawsuits when their opioid prescriptions are not filled. Walmart and our pharmacists are torn between demands from DEA on one side and health agencies and regulators on the other, and patients are caught in the middle. We need a court to clarify the roles and legal responsibilities of pharmacists and pharmacies in filling opioid prescriptions,” – Walmart said.
Need to be mentioned, that physicians and other health care professionals have reduced opioid prescribing by more than 37 percent in the past six years, prescribed naloxone more than a million times in 2019, and used prescription drug monitoring programs more than 739 million times in 2019—a 64 percent increase from 2018. “The focus now must be ending the epidemic and providing treatment for substance use disorders, prevention of new addictions, and recovery of patients. Diverting funds for other purposes will prolong the epidemic,” – AMA published.