NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery has filed a lawsuit against Walgreens claiming the company violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and created a public nuisance by contributing to opioid abuse.

According to a release from the attorney general’s office, the lawsuit claims Walgreens has failed to “maintain effective controls against abuse and diversion,” and has therefore contributed to the opioid crisis.

Slatery’s office stated that the lawsuit is focused on the company’s actions between 2006-2020, during which Walgreens operated somewhere between 200-300 stores in the state. Slatery claims Walgreens was in a key position and had “unique and superior knowledge of the volume of opioids” passing through its stores.

The release states that during those 14 years, Walgreens dispensed more than 1.1 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills, while the state’s population fell between six and seven million people. Estimates from the attorney general’s office found that that would equate to distributing about 175 of those pills for every man, woman and child in Tennessee.

“Walgreens did not flood the State of Tennessee with opioids by accident,” Slatery said in the release. “Rather, the fuel that Walgreens added to the fire of the opioid epidemic was the result of knowing—or willfully ignorant—corporate decisions.  Walgreens ignored numerous red flags and failed to detect and prevent the abuse and diversion of dangerous narcotics.”

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and civil penalties against Walgreens. Slatery’s office states the company violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, the state’s public nuisance statute and created a common law nuisance through its actions.

The lawsuit can be read in its entirety below:

Among the examples provided in the lawsuit is a claim that for years Walgreens put off properly training its pharmacists to spot red flags for opioid abuse.

Walgreens issued this statement to News Channel 11:

Walgreens never manufactured or marketed opioids, nor did we distribute them to the pain clinics and “pill mills” that fueled this crisis.  We will continue to defend against the unjustified attacks on the professionalism of our pharmacists, dedicated healthcare professionals who live in the communities they serve.