(Seattle, WA) -- Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson slammed three national pharmacy chains with a lawsuit Wednesday morning.  Ferguson says his lawsuit claims these pharmacy chains helped fuel Washington state’s opioid epidemic.The Attorney General says the pharmacies served as the last line of defense in the opioid supply chain and failed in their responsibility to prevent opioid prescriptions overuse.

In a press release, Ferguson said he filed the lawsuit against Albertsons, Kroger and Rite Aid. Those companies own Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer and Bartell Drugs. The lawsuit claims they collectively ignored federal regulations, put profits over safety and were complicit in oversupplying prescription opioids into Washington state. This led to a separate illegal market that flooded areas with the highly addictive and dangerous drugs. Ferguson says local governments are still coping with the damage these pharmacies helped cause.
“Opioids tore apart Washington families, overburdened our health care system and caused an epidemic of addiction we are still struggling to contain,” Ferguson said. “My office won a billion dollars to help fund recovery efforts, but I am not done. I will continue to hold accountable the corporations that enriched themselves off the suffering of Washington families,” said Ferguson

Ferguson adds the pharmacies’ conduct was an unfair business practice that violated the state Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit asks for penalties of $7,500 for each violation of the Consumer Protection Act and take injunctive actions to prevent further damage to communities. Ferguson expects this could total hundreds of millions of dollars or more.

Ferguson Settles with Other Chains

Ferguson also recently signed multistate resolutions with five other companies, which the Attorney General’s Office estimates could total:

  • CVS: $110.6 million to Washington state over 10 years;
  • Walgreens: $120.3 million to Washington state over 15 years;
  • Walmart: $62.6 million to Washington state and 97% of that paid in the first year;
  • Teva: $90.7 million to Washington state over the next 13 years; and
  • Allergan: $50 million to Washington state over the next seven years.

As part of the resolutions, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart will tightly monitor opioid prescriptions and prevent patients from seeking multiple prescriptions.

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