CVS and Walgreens tentatively agreed to pay $10 billion to settle lawsuits brought by states and local governments alleging retailers mishandled opioid painkiller prescriptions.
Walmart also tentatively agreed to pay $3 billion to settle similar lawsuits, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The deal will not be finalized until enough states, counties and cities agree to the terms, the outlet said.
CNN has contacted Walmart for comment.
CVS said if the settlement is reached, it would pay the states nearly $5 billion over 10 years beginning in 2023. Walgreens said it would also pay about $5 billion in remediation payments over 15 years.
“We believe this is in the best interest of the company and our stakeholders at this time, and enables our pharmacists, dedicated healthcare professionals who live and work in the communities they serve, to continue to play a vital role in providing education and resources to help fight opioid misuse and abuse,” Walgreens said.
CVS also said it seeks to reduce opioid abuse.
“We are pleased to resolve these long-standing claims and putting them behind us is in the best interests of all parties, as well as our customers, colleagues and shareholders,” CVS General Counsel Thomas Moriarty said in a statement. . “We are committed to working with states, municipalities and tribes, and will continue our own important initiatives to help reduce the illegitimate use of prescription opioids.”
US states, cities and counties have filed more than 3,000 lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies, accusing them of minimizing the risk of addiction and failing to prevent the diversion of pills for illegal purposes.
More than 500,000 overdose deaths over the past two decades — including more than 80,000 in 2021 alone — are blamed on the opioid crisis in the United States, according to government data, with an estimated 9.5 million ‘Americans ages 12 and older reported opioid abuse in 2020, including 9.3 million prescription painkiller abusers and 902,000 heroin users.
Meanwhile, synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, caused nearly two-thirds of the more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States in the 12 months ending April 2021 – up 49 % over the previous year – found the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. .
Opioids are drugs formulated to mimic the painkilling properties of opium and include prescription painkillers like morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone and illegal drugs like heroin and illegally manufactured fentanyl.
People who become addicted to opioids may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using them, and addiction is often associated with tolerance, which means users must take increasingly larger doses for the same effect. .
In August, a federal judge ruled that CVS, Walgreens and Walmart must pay a total of $650.6 million to two counties in Ohio for damages related to the opioid crisis. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2018 as part of a multidistrict federal litigation created that year to address multiple claims against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries announced a $4.35 billion national settlement proposal in July that could resolve thousands of lawsuits over the drugmaker’s alleged role in the United States’ opioid epidemic.
Purdue Pharma – whose painkiller OxyContin has been widely blamed for sparking the opioid crisis – and the Sackler families announced a settlement in March with a group of states that would force the Sacklers to pay up to $6 billion to states, individual claimants and opioids. crisis mitigation, if approved by a federal bankruptcy court judge.
And Johnson & Johnson and the three largest U.S. drug distributors — McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and AmerisourceBergen Corp — finalized a $26 billion nationwide opioid settlement in February.
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