The U.S. government accused Walmart Inc. of fueling a nationwide opioid crisis by ignoring warnings from its own pharmacists that the chain wasn’t properly set up to screen painkiller prescriptions in violation of federal regulations.
The complaint filed Tuesday in Delaware comes two months after the world’s largest retailer filed its own case in Texas accusing the U.S. of scapegoating Walmart for government failures in dealing with the crisis. More than 400,000 Americans’ deaths have been tied to legal and illegal opioid-based drugs over the last two decades.
In the new case, the U.S. alleges the retailer sought to boost profits with a system designed to make it almost impossible for overworked store pharmacists to catch red flags about overly large numbers of painkiller prescriptions. Walmart is in the unusual position of serving as the distributor of opioid-based medicines to its own stores.
“Given the nationwide scale of those violations, Walmart’s failures to follow basic legal rules helped fuel a national crisis,” the U.S. said in the complaint filed in federal court in Wilmington.