Attorney General Coleman sues Kroger over opioid dispensing

Published 4:37 pm Thursday, February 22, 2024

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Attorney General Russell Coleman has sued the Kroger Co. for its role in the opioid epidemic in Kentucky. 

The lawsuit, filed in state court in Bullitt County, alleges that the Cincinnati-based grocery chain, the nation’s largest, bought more than 4 billion morphine-milligram equivalents of opioids for Kentucky from 2006 to 2019, and during that time distributed almost 194 million hydrocodone pills to its Kentucky pharmacies while failing to effectively monitor for suspicious opioid orders.

“Kroger’s 100-plus pharmacies in the state were responsible for over 11% of all opioid pills dispensed in Kentucky, totaling hundreds of millions of doses flooding into communities without any reasonable safeguards,” a news release from Coleman’s office said.

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“For more than a decade, Kroger flooded Kentucky with an almost unthinkable number of opioid pills that directly led to addiction, pain and death,” Coleman said in the release. “Kroger, which families have trusted for so long, knowingly made these dangerous and highly addictive substances all too accessible. Worst of all, Kroger never created a formal system, a training or even a set of guidelines to report suspicious activity or abuse. The scourge of addiction that has plowed through graduating classes, work forces and entire families is the devastating result.”

“Despite clear red flags, Kroger did not report a single suspicious prescription in the Commonwealth between 2007-2014,” the release says. “No state was harder hit by the opioid epidemic than Kentucky, and the consequences have caused suffering and grief for many families across the commonwealth.”

Previous attorneys general have sued other opioid retailers and won multi-million-dollar settlements, which the legislature is funneling through local governments and a commission overseen by the attorney general to mitigate the opioid epidemic.