Tech Times reported on Feb. 25 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report revealing that mortality rates due to drug overdose have more than doubled since 1999. The death toll caused by opioids definitely affects not only patients who involuntarily become addicted to prescription drugs but curious children who are exposed to them as well.
The Cherokee Nation, however, has had enough of the opioid that crisis plaguing the United States and tearing families apart. In response to what it considers negligence on the part of pharmaceutical companies, the sovereign Indian nation filed a lawsuit against five companies in tribal court.
Cherokee Nation Lawsuit
The lawsuit was filed on April 20 at the District Court of the Cherokee Nation and accuses Mckesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc., Amerisourcebergen, CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
The Cherokee Nation believes that the abovementioned pharmaceutical companies failed to properly monitor opioid prescriptions and turned a blind eye on the issue for the sake of profit.
According to the lawsuit [PDF], the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) estimated that 845 million milligrams of opioids were distributed in the 14 countries that compose the Cherokee Nation in 2015. On the same year, Mayo Clinic computed that the defendants distributed approximately 7,200 milligrams of opioids, which roughly translate to 360 to 720 pills per prescription drug user.
"As we fight this epidemic in our hospitals, our schools and our Cherokee homes, we will also use our legal system to make sure the companies, who put profits over people while our society is crippled by this epidemic, are held responsible for their actions," Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said.
Governments Versus Pharmaceutical Companies
The Cherokee Nation is not the first government to strike against pharmaceutical companies. In February, Erie County in New York sued four other pharmaceutical companies for costing the county millions of dollars annually just to fight the crisis.
West Virginia also filed lawsuits to several pharmacy chains and distributors.
Pharmaceutical Companies Respond
In a statement, CVS Health said that it enforces strict policies to avoid what the company is being accused of.
"[CVS Health has] stringent policies, procedures, and tools to ensure that our pharmacists properly exercise their corresponding responsibility to determine whether a controlled substance prescription was issued for a legitimate medical purpose before filling it," the company says.
Gabriel Weissman, spokesperson for AmerisourceBergen, released a statement saying the company immediately stops the shipment of orders that seem suspicious.
Cardinal Health, on the other hand, said that the company will defend itself against the accusation, adding that the lawsuit would not help improve the current situation.
McKesson and Wal-Mart have not commented on the lawsuit and while Walgreens declined to comment.