Walmart is helping fight the opioid crisis. We are proud of our pharmacists, who help patients understand the risks about opioid prescriptions. And our pharmacists have refused to fill hundreds of thousands of opioid prescriptions they thought could be problematic.
On top of that, Walmart has blocked thousands of questionable doctors from having their opioid prescriptions filled by any of our pharmacists, as part of our good-faith efforts to help address the opioid crisis.
As a result, many health regulators, 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 and potentially harming patients who need their medicine.
This is a big reason why plaintiff-lawyer driven lawsuits brought around the country against Walmart and other pharmacies are misguided and dangerous to public health. In search of deep pockets, plaintiffs’ lawyers representing cities, counties and others are pushing a legal theory that pharmacies should be held responsible for the opioid crisis. In fact, courts around the country have rejected plaintiffs’ novel “public nuisance” liability theories in lawsuits in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, California, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota. As the Wall Street Journal said, it makes no sense to punish pharmacies for “filling legal prescriptions for a legal substance for real patients from licensed doctors.”
One serious and big-picture problem with the plaintiffs’ attempt to turn pharmacists and pharmacies into the “doctor police” is that it forces them to come between doctors and their patients in a way Congress never intended, and federal and state health regulators say isn’t allowed. And many patients say that pharmacies are preventing them from getting needed medicine.