Attorney General Coleman Sues Kroger for Fueling Deadly Opioid Crisis

Kroger bought equivalent of 444M opioid doses for Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 12, 2024) – Attorney General Russell Coleman announced today the filing of a lawsuit against the Kroger Company for its role in the devastating drug crisis in Kentucky. Between 2006-2019, Kroger and its more than 100 pharmacies in the Commonwealth were responsible for over 11% of all opioid pills dispensed in Kentucky, totaling hundreds of millions of doses flooding into communities without any reasonable safeguards.

The lawsuit, filed in Bullitt Circuit Court, alleges Kroger:

  • Bought over four billion morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) of opioids for Kentucky between 2006-2019. That’s roughly equivalent to 444 million opioid doses;
  • Distributed almost 194 million hydrocodone pills to its Kentucky pharmacies between 2006-2019; and
  • Failed to implement any effective monitoring program to stop suspicious opioid orders.

“For more than a decade, Kroger flooded Kentucky with an almost unthinkable number of opioid pills that directly led to addiction, pain and death,” said Attorney General Coleman. “Kroger, which families have trusted for so long, knowingly made these dangerous and highly addictive substances all too accessible. Worst of all, Kroger never created a formal system, a training or even a set of guidelines to report suspicious activity or abuse. The scourge of addiction that has plowed through graduating classes, work forces and entire families is the devastating result.”

Acting as a distributor and dispenser, Kroger had access to ample real-time data revealing unusual prescribing patterns and the ability to track suspicious orders. Despite clear red flags, Kroger did not report a single suspicious prescription in the Commonwealth between 2007-2014.

No state was harder hit by the opioid epidemic than Kentucky, and the consequences have caused suffering and grief for many families across the Commonwealth. The wave of addiction has tragically robbed thousands of Kentuckians of their potential. Kentucky has long ranked among the highest overdose death rates in the country. In one year alone, over 2,100 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses and poisonings.

Fighting the drug epidemic is a top priority for Attorney General Coleman. Earlier this month, General Coleman announced a nearly $7 million settlement with Publicis Health for the marketing agency’s role in the opioid crisis.

Read the entire complaint here.