NPR, April 25, 2017
Nate Hegyi

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The Cherokee Nation is suing top drug distributors and pharmacies — including Wal-Mart — alleging they profited greatly by "flooding" communities in Oklahoma with prescription painkillers, leading to the deaths of hundreds of tribal members.

Todd Hembree, attorney general for the Cherokee Nation, says drug companies didn't do enough to keep painkillers off the black market or to stop the overprescription of these powerful narcotics, which include OxyContin and Vicodin. "They flooded this market," Hembree says. "And they knew — or should've known — that they were doing so."

Walgreens, CVS Health and Wal-Mart are all named in the suit, along with the nation's three largest pharmaceutical distributors: AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health. They act as middlemen between pharmacies and drugmakers, distributing 85 to 90 percent of the prescription painkillers that some see as fueling a growing opioid epidemic in the U.S. [...]

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