Afternoon Coffee: US sues Walmart over alleged role in opioid crisis; New jobless claims hit 803,000; PRO Recap: LevaData, M&A technology integration

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The US Justice Department sued Walmart this week for what it said was the retailer’s role in fueling the nation’s opioid crisis, according to the New York Times. The lawsuit alleges that Walmart allowed its network of pharmacies to fill millions of opioid prescriptions, thousands of which authorities said were suspicious.

The civil complaint alleges that Walmart knew its system to detect questionable prescriptions was inadequate, and it details instances where employers actually warned federal authorities and company managers about these suspicious prescriptions, the article said.

“As one of the largest pharmacy chains and wholesale drug distributors in the country, Walmart had the responsibility and the means to help prevent the diversion of prescription opioids,” Jeffrey Bossert Clark, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s civil division, said in a statement, the NYT reported. “Instead, for years, it did the opposite — filling thousands of invalid prescriptions at its pharmacies and failing to report suspicious orders of opioids and other drugs placed by those pharmacies.”

The lawsuit is one of many of the government’s effort to hold large pharmacy chains responsible for their role in the opioid crisis. Much of the litigation around opioid addiction focused on doctors and distributors, but more and more, the government is focusing on large chains, the article said.

In October, Walmart preemptively sued the federal government in an effort to strike a blow against the potential opioid-related civil lawsuit from the Justice Department, alleging the government was going to use Walmart as a scapegoat.

Weekly jobless claims rise less than expected

The US Labor Department reported on Wednesday that weekly jobless claims rose less than expected last week to 803,000, according to CNBC.

Economists expected claims to rise to 888,000. Employers weighed the wintertime spike in coronavirus cases against expected relief from a pending $900 billion stimulus package, the article said.

“With a new bill likely to be signed with extra benefits and an extension of them in terms of time, we’ll see how people manage the job opportunities available relative to the size of these benefits,” Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, told CNBC. “For those that can’t find work, the extra claims will obviously help them. Either way, come spring and summer, we hope that we’ll see a sharp decline in all these numbers.”

Spend Matters' analysts look at LevaData and M&A technology integration

This week, Spend Matters PRO analysts assessed solutions from LevaData, a direct materials sourcing platform. Two analysts also discussed the five levels of M&A technology integration — this week providing information on Stage 2 integrations.

Our PRO subscribers can read the full articles, but all readers can see the lengthy intros that frame the issues being discussed. This week:

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Happy holidays!

Afternoon Coffee will take a brief hiatus for the holidays. We'll catch back up soon. Happy holidays!

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