CVS: Franklin County’s Largest Purveyor of Legal Opioid Drugs

According to a recently released DEA database, the CVS location on Federal Street dispensed more than 5 million opioid pills into our small community between 2006 and 2012. This horrified me, and the resolution below is my response.

Every component of the opioid supply chain is complicit in the current crisis. I’m not content to see taxpayer money fund recovery efforts when irresponsible corporations like CVS and Purdue Pharma made billions of dollars off of these drugs by means of deceptive marketing and shoddy patents. We have to hold them accountable.


A resolution requesting compensation from CVS Health Corporation for said corporation’s role in the opioid addiction crisis in the City of Greenfield

7/4/2019

Whereas: the City of Greenfield, Franklin County, and many other areas of the nation currently suffer from a crisis of opioid addiction, a crisis which developed from an overabundance of legal opioid drugs prescribed and dispensed for over a decade beginning in the late 1990s(1), and;

Whereas: While the roots of this crisis are complex, aggressive marketing efforts by drug companies focused on the most irresponsible, high-volume prescribers and pharmacies played a major role in moving massive quantities of legal narcotics onto our streets (2), and;

Whereas: this addiction crisis has led to at least 110 deaths in Franklin County since 2010 (3), has created immeasurable grief for families in the area, has made our community less safe, and has cost local taxpayers significant sums for the provision of additional law enforcement, EMS, social services, and recovery options (4), and;

Whereas: a single CVS Pharmacy location, at 137 Federal St. in the city of Greenfield, MA, dispensed 5,299,930 doses of these dangerous and addictive narcotics between 2006 and 2012, a number amounting to more than 42 doses per year for every individual in the City of Greenfield and exceeding by a factor of four the number sold by the local pharmacy with the next-highest sales (5), and;

Whereas: MGL c. 94C  §19(a) emphasizes the responsibility of pharmacies in the dispensing of controlled substances, stating that “[t]he responsibility for the proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances shall be upon the prescribing practitioner, but a corresponding responsibility shall rest with the pharmacist who fills the prescription,” and;

Whereas: allowing such quantities of dangerous drugs into our community represents a flagrant breach of corporate responsibility and a disregard for public safety, and;

Whereas: profits made from the sale of addictive substances to vulnerable populations are an affront to morality.

Be it resolved that the Greenfield City Council hereby requests that the CVS Health Corporation promptly make a voluntary payment in the amount of $0.50 for each opioid pill dispensed from 2006 to 2012, for a total of $2,664,965, with half of that sum payable to the City of Greenfield and half payable to the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region. These funds, which shall be used for drug treatment, harm reduction, recovery services, research, healthcare expenses, transitional housing, and other much-needed social services, represent only a symbolic contribution on behalf of CVS Health to ameliorate the incalculable human damage that the opioid drugs that they sold have wrought in our communities. 

Be it further resolved that that Greenfield City Council encourages all employees and shareholders of the CVS Health Corporation to levy pressure on the corporation’s executive team and board of directors to take responsibility for the corporation’s role in the nationwide opioid crisis and commit to a comprehensive plan by which CVS Health can play a long-term role in said crisis. 

Be it further resolved that the town clerk of the City of Greenfield shall upon passage cause a copy of this resolution to be sent to: the CEO of the CVS Health Corporation; the general manager at the CVS Pharmacy location at 137 Federal St. in Greenfield; U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren; U.S. Senator Ed Markey; U.S. Representative James McGovern; Massachusetts State Senator Jo Comerford, Massachusetts State Representative Paul Mark, and to local media outlets including but not limited to the Greenfield Recorder, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, The Boston Globe, the Valley Advocate, MassLive, and 22News.

1:  “What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic?,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html
2: Ameet Sarpatwari, Michael S. Sinha, & Aaron S. Kesselheim, “ The Opioid Epidemic: Fixing a Broken Pharmaceutical Market,” Harvard Law & Policy Review 11, (2017): 465-467. 
3:
 “Number of Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths, All Intents by County, MA Residents: 2010-2018,” Massachusetts Department of Public Health, May 2019, https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2019/05/15/Opioid-related-Overdose-Deaths-by-County-May-2019.pdf
4: Elizabeth Weeks, “Financial Impact of the Opioid Crisis on Local Government: Quantifying Costs for Litigation and Policymaking,” Kansas Law Review 67, 2019: 2016-1132.
5:  “Drilling into the DEA’s pain pill database,” The Washington Post, July 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/dea-pain-pill-database/?utm_term=.862ad4615e87