Walmart Inc. sued the federal government in an attempt to strike a pre-emptive blow against what it said is an impending opioid-related civil action from the Justice Department.
The retail giant said in its lawsuit that the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration are seeking to scapegoat the company for the federal government’s own regulatory and enforcement shortcomings in the opioid crisis.
Walmart said the government is seeking steep financial penalties against the retailer for allegedly contributing to the opioid crisis by filling questionable prescriptions.
The suit names the department and Attorney General William Barr as defendants, as well as the DEA and its acting administrator, Timothy Shea. It is asking for a declaration from a federal judge that the government has no lawful basis for seeking civil damages from the company based on claims pharmacists filled valid prescriptions that they should have known raised red flags.
Walmart, which operates more than 5,000 in-store pharmacies in the U.S., said the government’s “threatened action would be unprecedented.” It said the government hasn’t alleged that the company was filling altered prescriptions, or that its pharmacists had inappropriate relationships with patients or doctors.
“In the shadow of their own profound failures, DOJ and DEA now seek to retroactively impose on pharmacists and pharmacies unworkable requirements that are not found in any law and go beyond what pharmacists are trained and licensed to perform,” the company said in the lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas.
The Justice Department and DEA declined to comment.
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Walmart’s lawsuit is an unusual and aggressive tactic for a company in high-stakes talks with the department. Its suit won’t necessarily head off any Justice Department action, but a court ruling embracing the company’s view of the law could give it a weapon against any government case…Continue Reading