The Wall Street Journal reports today about a claim against pharmacies as a result of customer drug abuse. In the State of Nevada a case is pending that may confer liability upon a drugstore for the consequences of an accident caused by patient drug abuse. A pharmacy dispensed narcotic painkillers to a Patricia Copening, 35 year old doctor's office receptionist, who killed a 21 year old man in a fatal Las Vegas accident.
A case is pending against the seven pharmacies (Wal-Mart, Longs Drugs, Walgreen Co., CVS Pharmacy, Rite-Aid, Sav-On and Lam’s Pharmacy) that dispensed 4,800 tablets of the drug for Copening in the 13 months prior to the fatal accident.
The Nevada Prescription Controlled Substance Abuse Task Force had notified the pharmacies that Copening was “taking an unusual amount of these narcotics.” The vehicle causing the accident was commercially owned by a physician who was involved in a relationship with the driver.
The Nevada Supreme Court will be deciding whether the pharmacies, previously dismissed by the trial court, are liable because they dispense enormous amounts of drugs to Copening that resulted in drug abuse and resulting the fatal accident.
Where the perimeter of liability may end is unknown. Workers' Compensation insurance companies and their integrated pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) dispense many narcotics, on an ongoing basis, for pain relief, to injured workers. The courts may ultimately deem them unprotected by the "exclusivity rule," and they, as ultimate wrongdoers, may become targets for these tragic yet foreseeable events.
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