CVS, Walgreens pay billions to settle opioid suit

(The Hill) – CVS and Walgreens have agreed in principle to pay a combined $10 billion to settle opioid lawsuits, the pharmacy chain announced Wednesday.

CVS will pay $4.9 billion to states and political subdivisions, such as cities and counties, and about $130 million to tribes over 10 years, starting next year, according to the release from the company.

The tentative settlement from CVS would resolve lawsuits and claims involving the addictive painkiller dating back a decade or more, though the company said the non-monetary terms have yet to be finalized.

“We are pleased to resolve these long-standing claims and put them behind us for the benefit of all parties, including our customers, colleagues and shareholders,” said CVS Health Chief Policy Officer Thomas Moriarty.

Walgreens also announced Wednesday that it has agreed in principle to pay about $4.95 billion to states, subdivisions and tribes and settle all opioid claims against it, according to a release. Funds will be paid over 15 years.

“As one of the largest pharmacy chains in the nation, we remain committed to being part of the solution, and this settlement framework will allow us to remain focused on the health and well-being of our customers and patients while making a positive contribution to address the opioid crisis,” he said. Walgreens in a statement.

Both companies insisted that the payment was not an admission of liability or wrongdoing. However, if the agreement passes, the settlement may be some of the largest connected with the opioid crisis.

Bloomberg reported that Walmart Inc. has also agreed to pay about $3 billion to settle opioid lawsuits.

A group of court-appointed negotiators involved National Prescription Opiate Litigation MDLor multi-district litigation, called the tentative agreement “an important step in our efforts to hold pharmacy defendants accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic that continues to destroy individual lives, as well as entire cities and states.”

Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens have come under recent scrutiny for their role in the opioid crisis.

Opioids are the leading driver of drug overdose deaths in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many cases include prescription opioids, which can be dispensed at the pharmacy.

From 1999 to 2020, more than 263,000 people in the US died from overdoses involving prescription opioids.

A study It was released earlier this year that it was estimated that 1.2 million people in the US and Canada could die by 2029 if the government does not take action against the industry that facilitates the use of opioids.

CVS said in a statement Wednesday that the company has also taken several initiatives to combat opioid abuse, ranging from education programs about prescription drug abuse to new technology to prevent opioid theft.

Walgreens has taken similar steps, such as making the opioid overdose reversal medication Naloxone available at all pharmacies.

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