Dispensing claims in the massive opioid multidistrict litigation cannot be included in bellwether cases against pharmacies because those claims were added too late, the Sixth Court ruled.

The petition was granted April 15, three months after the pharmacy chains submitted a petition claiming that U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster acted improperly when he allowed two Ohio counties to amend their complaints with dispensing allegations against the companies.

The decision will sharpen the focus of a November bellwether to determine how the pharmacies’ actions as wholesale opioid distributors affected Summit and Cuyahoga counties in Ohio. The pharmacies named include CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and Walmart.

The trial is one of nearly 3,000 cases filed by local governments across the country holding opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies accountable for creating and fueling a national opioid epidemic by overstating the benefits of the drug and failing to adequately warn of the risks of addiction and overdose.

The opioid crisis, the local governments argue, has caused tens of thousands of opioid overdose deaths and millions of dollars in economic damages to their communities. The cases are centralized in a multidistrict litigation in the Northern District Court of Ohio under Judge Polster.

Pharmacies have been largely shielded from much of the publicity surrounding the opioid multidistrict litigation. Much of the focus has centered on opioid manufacturers, like Johnson & Johnson and OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma.

Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section are representing local governments holding opioid companies accountable for overdose deaths and economic damages in their communities caused by the opioid crisis.

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