On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the pharmaceutical distributor Rite Aid for its role in distributing opioids and allegedly ignoring signs of obvious misuse in earlier years.

The complaint against Rite Aid said that from at least May 2014 to June 2019, the pharmacy knowingly distributed fentanyl and oxycodone, among “other highly diverted controlled substances” that were unlawful prescriptions.

“Because pharmacies are the last step in the supply chain before controlled substances are in the hands of individuals, the law vests pharmacies and pharmacists with important obligations to ensure that they fill only legitimate prescriptions,” read the complaint.

According to the DOJ, Rite Aid was in violation of its legal responsibility “and instead put profits first.”

Revenue for the pharmacy has plunged as the company’s share values have reached their lowest levels in the last 48 years over the last three quarters, per The Wall Street Journal.

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Rite Aid is also accused of covering up concerns from pharmacists about suspicious activity and “red flags” by telling them “to always be very cautious of what is put in writing,” while deleting notes on accounts, such as “writing excessive dose for oxycodone” or “DO NOT FILL CONTROLS.”

The opioid crisis is a rising concern as the number of deaths from overdose — in particular opioid overdose — reaches new heights every year.

In 2021, more than 106,000 Americans died from an overdose, which is close to 9,000 more than last year, per The National Institute of Drug Abuse. More than half of those overdose deaths were from opioids.

“The Justice Department is using every tool at our disposal to confront the opioid epidemic that is killing Americans and shattering communities across the country,” Attorney General Merrick Garland told Reuters in a statement.

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