The US justice department sued Walmart on Tuesday, accusing the retailer of fuelling the opioid crisis and ignoring warning signs from its pharmacists, according to a court filing.
The retailer’s shares fell about 2% following the news.
The lawsuit, filed in US district court in Delaware, alleges Walmart failed to take its gatekeeping duties as a pharmacy seriously.
The world’s biggest retailer created a system that turned its 5,000 in-store pharmacies into suppliers of highly addictive painkillers, dating back as early as June 2013, the lawsuit said.
The Trump administration’s allegations come months after the retailer filed a lawsuit against the federal government, seeking clarity on the roles and legal responsibilities of pharmacists and pharmacies in filling opioid prescriptions.
The opioid epidemic has claimed the lives of roughly 450,000 across the US since 1999, due to overdoses from prescription painkillers and illegal drugs.
Walmart was not immediately available for a comment.