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Judge dismisses pharmacies’ suit

CLEVELAND (AP) — A federal judge in Cleveland has dismissed an effort by pharmacy companies to shift their liability for the opioid crisis to physicians and practitioners in the two Ohio counties suing them, alleging they created a public nuisance.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster ruled Tuesday that lawsuits filed by Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, and Summit County, which includes Akron, are not tied to prescribing practices, but to the failure of the companies to implement systems and policies to prevent the illegal diversion of painkillers.

“Plaintiffs’ theory and intended proof do not rely on whether prescribers made negligent or fraudulent representations,” Polster wrote.

Adding claims against prescribers would cause a significant delay in the trial of the counties’ lawsuits against Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Discount Drug Mart and HBC, scheduled to begin in November, Polster said.

Attorneys for the pharmacy chains argued in a filing in January that Polster should reject the counties’ claims because pharmacies can fill only prescriptions written by prescribers authorized by the state of Ohio and registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.