A customer waits at the counter of a CVS Pharmacy store in Pasadena, U.S., May 2, 2016.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

A jury in Ohio ruled Tuesday that three major pharmaceutical chains bore responsibility for the opioid epidemic in two Ohio counties.

The civil case, brought in federal court against CVS, Walmart and Walgreens, marks the first time pharmacies have been found responsible in the nationwide epidemic.

“It is a precedent setting case,” Mark Lanier, the lead trial attorney for Lake and Trumbull Counties, told CNN Tuesday.

Damages are set to be adjudicated in the spring. Lanier said that each county would be seeking over $1 billion in damages. Together, the counties represent some 440,000 Ohioans, according to court documents.

The suit, which was initially filed in 2018, was part of the federal multi-district litigation created that year to address the manifold claims against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The counties alleged that the pharmacies “abused their position of special trust and responsibility” as registered dispensers of controlled drugs, and in so doing “fostered a black market for prescription opioids.”

“Prescription opioid pill mills and rogue prescribers cannot channel opioids for illicit use without at least the tacit support and willful blindness of the Defendants, if not their knowing support,” the complaint read.

Read more….