Wholesaler and retailer Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) has filed a new lawsuit asking that it be cleared of any wrongdoing in America’s opioid crisis.
With threats of legal action from the Department of Justice and other federal agencies, the company wants to be exonerated of any guilt related to the hundreds of thousands of opioid overdose fatalities in recent years.
Department of Justice May Take Legal Action Against Walmart
Walmart’s lawsuit is a preemptive measure. The company is concerned that the Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Justice, and other related agencies will sue it in the coming months.
Walmart has around 5000 pharmacy outlets within its stores in the U.S.
Company leadership has stated that the lawsuit responds directly to threats from the Department of Justice. In a press release, Walmart said that the company and its pharmacists “are committed to helping address the opioid crisis that has affected so many.”
The same statement also said that “certain DOJ officials have long seemed more focused on chasing headlines than fixing the crisis. They are now threatening a completely unjustified lawsuit against Walmart, claiming in hindsight pharmacists should have refused to fill otherwise valid opioid prescriptions.”
The company argues that those prescriptions were written by doctors that are still licensed and approved. Walmart followed all laws and ethical standards when fulfilling opioid prescriptions.
Many observers will sympathize with Walmart’s position. At the end of the day, it is the physicians who approved and recommended opioid drugs for their patients and have so far seen few or no consequences concerning the opioid crisis.
Purdue Pharma, the maker of the OxyContin at the center of the crisis reached a settlement worth $8.3 billion earlier this month, and it will cease all operations. This win against a large corporate entity has likely emboldened the Department of Justice.
Walmart is Still a Compelling Investment Option
Despite the economic impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Walmart has been one of the best retail stocks of 2020. Shares are up more than 20% in the year so far, and there’s still a predicted upside for investors who buy now. The stock comes with a dividend, which can contribute to a reliable income in an uncertain economy.
If the company and its pharmacists are cleared of wrongdoing, the brand will directly benefit. This could contribute to the viability of this stock in the months moving forward.
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