Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday announced he has launched an investigation into Walmart to determine whether it filled prescriptions improperly and failed to report suspicious prescriptions for opioids.
Paxton said he filed a Civil Investigative Demand that requires extensive documentation from the retailer.
According to a news release on his website, Paxton said his office is investigating potential violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Paxton is demanding Walmart furnish records that go back to 2006, during which time the company was required to report opioid prescription sales to the Drug Enforcement Administration and Texas state agencies.
“I have fought for Texans who have been tragically impacted by the illegal marketing and sale of opioids, which have caused addiction and the untimely deaths of thousands of people each year,” Paxton said.
“I am committed to holding pharmacies accountable if they played a role in this devastating epidemic,” he said.
Walmart said it will comply, and said it was certain its pharmacies in Texas had done nothing wrong, according to Fox News.
Walmart said in a statement that it has “never manufactured, marketed or promoted opioids, and pharmacists aren’t doctors and don’t write opioid prescriptions.”
“We are confident in our record helping fight the opioid crisis, and we are proud of our pharmacists, who help patients understand the risks about opioid prescriptions, and have refused to fill hundreds of thousands of opioid prescriptions they thought could be problematic,” the statement said.
Walmart said if anything, it has been called too aggressive in rejecting opioid prescriptions.
“As a result of Walmart’s refusal to fill opioid prescriptions, many health regulators (including the Texas Medical Board), medical groups, doctors and patients say that Walmart is going too far in refusing to fill opioid prescriptions, and even say we are improperly interfering in the doctor-patient relationship. Walmart and our pharmacists are torn between the demands on pharmacists imposed by opioids plaintiffs on one side and health agencies and regulators on the other, and patients are caught in the middle,” the statement said, according to Fox.
That lawsuit was in abeyance until the court decided a case involving two doctors who had been convicted of misusing their medical licenses in filling opioid prescriptions. The Supreme Court ruled on that case on Monday, ruling in favor of the doctors, clearing the way for a resumption of the federal civil case in July.
In November, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens were found liable for contributing to the opioid crisis in Ohio, according to The New York Times. A ruling on the damages the companies must pay has not yet been issued.
“It’s the first opioid trial against these major household names,” Adam Zimmerman, who teaches mass litigation at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said at the time.
“They have been the least willing group of defendants to settle, so this verdict is at least a small sign to them that these cases won’t necessarily play out well in front of juries,” he said.
The decision could prompt pharmacy defendants being sued to opt for a settlement instead of a trial, he said. The companies have said they will appeal the verdict.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.