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Pharmacies must pay $650.6 million to Ohio counties in opioid case

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A customer views merchandise for sale at a Walgreens store in the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles.
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Pharmacy operators CVS, Walmart and Walgreens must pay a combined $650.6 million to two Ohio counties to address the damage done by the opioid epidemic, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

The order by U.S. Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland comes after the first trial pharmacy chains have faced over the opioid crisis. The pharmacies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A jury in Cleveland federal court last November concluded that the pharmacy chains helped create a public nuisance in Lake and Trumbull counties in the form of an oversupply of addictive pain pills, many of which found their way onto the black market. Polster held a separate non-jury trial earlier this year to decide the amount they must pay.

The U.S. opioid epidemic has caused more than 500,000 overdose deaths over two decades, according to government data. More than 3,300 opioid lawsuits have been filed nationally against drugmakers, distributors and pharmacy chains, leading to a recent wave of proposed settlements.

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