Several major pharmacy chains must turn over 14 years’ worth of opioid prescription records to the hundreds of local governments suing them to show what safeguards they had in place to ensure the prescriptions were legitimate, the federal judge overseeing the multidistrict litigation (MDL) ruled, according to Law360.

U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster’s order applies to large pharmacy chains such as Walgreen Co., CVS Health Corp., Rite-Aid Corp., and Walmart Inc. – companies the cities and counties claim helped fuel the nation’s opioid epidemic and contributed to overdose deaths and economic damages in their communities.

Cuyahoga and Summit counties, the two Ohio counties, will be the first to receive the records, though only for prescriptions in those counties. Their case is the first in the MDL scheduled to be tried.

Judge Polster had initially ordered the pharmacies to pull records dating back nearly a quarter century to 1996, but ultimately agreed to shorten discovery to 2006. Attorneys for the local governments argued that discovery should date back to at least 2007, when OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP agreed to pay $600 million to settle claims from federal prosecutors that it had misled doctors and drug regulators of the overdose and addiction risks with its potent opioid.

The pharmacies have been critical of Judge Polster, arguing that they were not getting a fair shake in the massive MDL and, at one point, seeking – unsuccessfully – to remove him from the litigation.

Dozens of opioid manufacturers and distributors are also named in the opioid multidistrict litigation.

Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section are looking at cases of serious injuries and illness – including addiction and overdose – related to opioid use and abuse. For more information, contact Melissa Prickett or Liz Eiland.

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