West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed two lawsuits against Walgreens and Rite Aid this week, claiming they failed to monitor and report suspicious orders of controlled substances and ordered excessive amounts of opioids to their pharmacies in the state.


In the June 3 lawsuit against Walgreens, Mr. Morrisey claimed that Walgreens distributed 28 million oxycodone pills in West Virginia between 2006 and 2014, though the state has less than 2 million people. The volume of pills should have been a red flag that not all of the prescriptions were for legitimate medical reasons and that many were being diverted, the lawsuit says.

In the lawsuit against Rite Aid, Mr. Morrisey claims that between 2006 and 2014, the company distributed more than 87 million oxycodone pills in West Virginia.

He claimed that both Walgreens and Rite Aid were among the top 10 opioid distributors in West Virginia between 2006 and 2014.

In 2017, more than 1,000 people in West Virginia died from drug overdoses, and 86 percent of those deaths involved an opioid, the lawsuit claims. That’s three times higher than the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

Also in 2017, providers wrote 81.3 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people in the state, compared to the national average of 58.76 prescriptions, the lawsuit claims.

Mr. Morrisey claimed both Walgeens and Rite Aid violated West Virginia’s consumer credit and protection act and caused a public nuisance.

A Walgreens spokesperson told Becker’s: “We never manufactured or marketed opioids and never sold opioids to the pain clinics, internet pharmacies and pill mills that fueled the opioid crisis. Prior to 2014, unlike other companies involved in this litigation, we delivered opioids only to our own pharmacies, and the only place we ever sold opioids was at the pharmacy counter, when presented with a prescription written by a prescriber, with a valid DEA license, for a legitimate medical need.”

Becker’s has also reached out to Rite Aid for comment and will update this story accordingly.