A federal court in east Texas has tossed Walmart’s preemptive suit filed in October against the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency about the roles and duties of pharmacists under the Controlled Substances Act.
Walmart said Friday (Feb. 5) it plans to appeal that decision. The suit against the DEA claims the federal agency’s legal theories are “misguided and not supported by federal law or its regulations.”
Walmart said its pharmacists exercise their professional judgment to refuse to fill hundreds of thousands of inappropriate opioid prescriptions and have blocked thousands of questionable doctors from having opioid prescriptions filled at any Walmart pharmacy. The company also often assists law enforcement in identifying inappropriate prescriptions and prescribers.
“We brought this lawsuit because Walmart and our pharmacists are torn between demands from DEA on one side and federal health agencies and state regulators on the other, and patients are caught in the middle. The court’s decision yesterday is purely procedural, based on when the federal government can be sued, and does not resolve the public health concerns raised in our case,” the retailer noted.
The dismissal does not impact the suit by the Justice Department against Walmart filed in December. The suit alleges the retailer and its pharmacists did not properly screen opioid prescriptions, and the lack of oversight contributed to the ongoing controlled substance crisis in the U.S.
Walmart ranks third in the U.S. among the number of pharmacists employed within retail establishments. Walmart employs more than 15,300, less than the 31,200 pharmacists who work for CVS Health and the nearly 49,000 who work at Walgreens.