CVS, Walgreens settle opioid lawsuits for $10B

FILE – In this undated combination of photos shown are CVS, Walmart and Walgreens locations. A hearing will begin Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in federal court in Cleveland that will result in a judge determining how much CVSHealth, Walgreens Co. and Walmart Corp. should pay two northeast Ohio counties to help them abate the continuing opioid crisis. A jury in November 2021 concluded that the three pharmacy chains were responsible for damage wrought by the opioid epidemic in Lake and Trumbull counties. (AP Photo/File)

Pharmaceutical giants CVS and Walgreens will collectively pay more than $10 billion to several states in the latest settlement to help relieve communities burdened by the ongoing opioid crisis.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who led a multistate coalition in negotiating a settlement with the pharmaceutical companies, announced on Monday that CVS will pay $5 billion and Walgreens will pay $5.7 billion.

James said the settlement agreement would bring more than $450 million to New York alone, adding that U.S. communities “continue to mourn family, friends, and loved ones lost to the opioid crisis.”

“Though we cannot reverse the devastation, my fellow attorneys general and I are committed to holding those who allowed this epidemic to run rampant through our country to account,” she said in a statement.

The states involved in the settlement are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas.

States will have until the end of the year to sign on to the settlement agreement. In early 2023, local governments will also be able to sign on to the settlement.

CVS will pay out its settlement over a decade, while Walgreens will spread out its payment over 15 years.

As part of the deal, pharmaceutical companies will also be required to increase oversight of fraudulent or suspicious prescriptions, among other requirements.

Both Walgreens and CVS announced they would pay the settlement last month.

In a statement at the time, Walgreens said it does not admit wrongdoing or liability but the settlement “will allow us to keep our focus on the health and wellbeing of our customers and patients while making positive contributions to address the opioid crisis.”

CVS also said in a statement last month it does not admit wrongdoing by agreeing to the settlement.

“We are pleased to resolve these longstanding claims and putting them behind us is in the best interest of all parties,” said Thomas Moriarty, chief policy officer and general counsel at CVS Health.

The opioid crisis continues to ravage communities across America. More than 107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021. The powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl was responsible for two-thirds of those deaths that year.

In recent years, states have secured massive opioid-related settlements against several pharmaceutical companies, including McKesson, Walmart and Purdue Pharma, which are accused of fueling the opioid crisis by shipping a massive amount of pain pills to Americans with few safety checks.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) on Monday said the settlement with Walgreens would bring more than $500 million dollars to the state but added his office was reviewing the CVS agreement.

Bonta said the Walgreens settlement was a “win in our ongoing fight to bring help and healing to California communities.”

“To all those struggling with substance abuse disorders, to all those desperately in need of treatment and recovery options — help is on the way,” he said in a statement.

Tags California Colorado CVS Letitia James Letitia James New York opioid crisis Pennsylvania Rob Bonta Rob Bonta Settlement State Attorney General Thomas Moriarty Walgreens

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