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In 2011, Walgreens executives were under pressure. Amid a growing addiction crisis, and with the country already awash in prescription painkillers, the federal government was demanding accountability from the pharmacy giant for filling thousands of opioid prescriptions written by doctors in suspiciously large quantities. 

Scrambling for a solution, the company’s leadership traded ideas for new ways of ensuring its pharmacies would stop filling medically illegitimate prescriptions. So one executive — a senior Walgreens attorney — offered a seemingly better idea.

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