Quick Takes

LAWSUIT: Florida is suing the nation’s two largest drugstore chains, Walgreens and CVS, alleging they added to the state and national opioid crisis by overselling painkillers and not taking precautions to stop illegal sales.

Attorney General Pam Bondi announced late Friday that she has added the companies to a state-court lawsuit filed last spring against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and several opioid distributors.

Bondi said in a press release that CVS and Walgreens “played a role in creating the opioid crisis.” She said the companies failed to stop “suspicious orders of opioids” and “dispensed unreasonable quantities of opioids from their pharmacies.” On average, about 45 people die nationally each day because of opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

STILL CLOSED: Regulators voted Friday to close the Gulf of Maine winter shrimp season for another three years, raising fears that the fishery decimated by rising water temperatures may never bounce back.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has been taking a year-to-year approach to determining whether to allow a winter season, but the panel decided to shut it down for 2019, 2020 and 2021 after receiving a dismal report on the depleted fishery.

The fishery has been shut down since in 2013 in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

STORES OPEN: Two marijuana stores in Massachusetts were given the green light Friday to begin selling to recreational customers next week, making them the first commercial pot shops in the eastern United States.

Both stores, one located in Northampton and the other in Leicester, said they would open Tuesday morning after the Cannabis Control Commission, the state’s marijuana regulatory agency, authorized them to begin operations in three calendar days.

The announcement ends a long wait for commercial sales to begin in Massachusetts. The state’s voters legalized the use of recreational marijuana by adults 21 and older in 2016, but it’s taken more than two years for state legislators and regulators to reach the point where the first stores can finally open.

NEW RACETRACK: The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has approved a joint venture between Churchill Downs and Keeneland at a proposed $150 million racetrack and betting parlor near the Kentucky and Tennessee line.

The commission on Friday approved the racetrack license on an 11-3 vote, beating out competing projects from Kentucky Downs and Caesars-Bluegrass Downs. The racetrack license, the first approved in Kentucky in 25 years, allows for 12 days of Standardbred racing starting in Oct. 2019.

The project — located in Oak Grove, Kentucky — will include a gambling parlor with up 1,500 historical horse racing machines.

Historical horse racing machines are lucrative betting terminals that allow people to bet on races that have already taken place. The games often are designed to play like slot machines, with the video of a horse race reduced to a few seconds shown in a small window if the player chooses.

GIFT FROM THE HEART: A $5 million gift from a suburban Detroit couple will help create a new heart center at Beaumont Hospital.

The money from Orchard Lake residents Max and Debra Ernst will go to the $9 million Max and Debra Ernst Heart Center at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. Max Ernst is a former Arbor Drugs executive. The center will be dedicated to consolidating cardiac care, particularly for patients with heart failure.

The gift brings the couple’s total giving to support heart and vascular care at Beaumont to $8 million. They earlier gave $3 million to open the Ernst Cardiovascular Center in Memory of Ellen Ernst.

It’s scheduled to open in the fall 2019.

From wire reports


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