Arkansas sues Optum, Express Scripts and others over opioid epidemic

The action of PBMs, combined with those of manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies created the opioid crisis, lawsuit says.

June 27, 2024, Susan Morse, Executive Editor

The state of Arkansas is suing Optum, OptumRx and parent company UnitedHealth Group, Cigna’s Evernorth and its pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, and others over the opioid epidemic.

The complaint was filed June 24 in the Circuit Court of Pulaski County, Arkansas. 

Attorney General Tim Griffin wants the actions of the Optum and other defendants decreed illegal and as failing to comply with state law requiring the monitoring and reporting of suspicious opioid distribution to Arkansas and surrounding areas.

The state wants restitution of an unspecified amount, costs and expenses and a jury trial.


The action is against PBMs as middlemen who determine rebates and formulary placement. PBMs provide services to prescription drug benefit plans sponsored by health insurers, self-insured employers, and state and federal government agencies.

The state blames PBMs for putting profits over patient safety and “in causing and furthering the worst man-made epidemic in modern medical history: the misuse, abuse, diversion, and over-prescription of opioids.” 


Tim Allen

Medtech leader with 19+ years of experience in medical device product development, manufacturing, and project management.

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