On the afternoon of June 4, 2004, a woman named Patricia Copening driving a SUV ran into a delivery-van driver who had pulled over to repair a flat tire on the highway’s shoulder, killing him at the scene. She also hit another man, causing a head and other injuries.
A lawsuit filed by the victims and their families against Wal-Mart, who dispensed a painkiller prescription to Copening, asks whether drugstores must use information at their disposal to protect the public from potentially dangerous customers. State officials had sent letters to 14 pharmacies in the Las Vegas area warning that Copening could be abusing drugs. The letters were issued after a state-ordered prescription audit identified potential drug abusers, including Copening.
According to this story from Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Nevada pharmacies have been gathering information about prescription drug use, sending it to the state, and receiving letters from the state advising about potential drug abuse since 1997.