Texas attorney general launches investigation into Walmart’s opioid sales

June 28 (Reuters) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Tuesday he was investigating whether Walmart (WMT.N) misfilled prescriptions and failed to report suspicious orders during the sale of opioid drugs.

Paxton said he has initiated a civil investigation into Walmart’s potential violations of Texas’ deceptive marketing practices law regarding the promotion, sale, distribution and dispensing of prescription opioids.

The investigation focuses on Walmart’s compliance with submitting documentation related to its opioid orders to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and all state agencies in Texas, Paxton said.

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“I fought for Texans who have been tragically impacted by the illegal marketing and sale of opioids, which have caused addiction and the premature death of thousands of people every year,” Paxton said. “I am committed to holding pharmacies accountable if they have played a role in this devastating outbreak.”

Walmart said it would answer questions from the Texas attorney general and was confident in its opioid safety case.

The company’s pharmacists have refused to fill hundreds of thousands of prescriptions for potentially problematic opioids, and it has been chastised for being overly cautious at times – including by the Texas Medical Board, the Walmart spokesperson said , Randy Hargrove.

“Walmart and our pharmacists are torn between the demands placed on pharmacists by opioid seekers on one side and health agencies and regulators on the other, and patients are caught in the middle,” Hargrove said.

The federal government separately sued Walmart for its alleged failure to report suspicious opioid orders in 2020, and many of the examples used in its suit involved prescriptions from Texas.

That trial was put on hold late last year while the U.S. Supreme Court considered a separate case involving the criminal convictions of two doctors convicted of abusing their medical licenses to fill thousands of prescriptions for addictive painkillers.

The Supreme Court ruled on the case on Monday, ruling unanimously in favor of the two doctors, who argued that their trials were unfair because jurors were not instructed to determine whether they had reason to ” good faith” to believe that their many opioid prescriptions were medically valid.

The federal government’s lawsuit against Walmart is set to resume on July 11.

Walmart, along with two drugstore chain operators, were found responsible in November for fueling the opioid epidemic in two Ohio counties. The judge in that case held a second trial to determine how much Walmart and its co-defendants should pay to ease the opioid crisis in the two counties, but has yet to issue a ruling.

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Reporting by Dietrich Knauth Editing by Chris Reese, Leslie Adler and Michael Perry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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