According to a new report, CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens have reached an agreement to settle a $13.8 billion opioid lawsuit to end thousands of nationwide suits.
According to Reuters, CVS will pay $5B over 10 years, Walgreens $5.7B over 15 years, and Walmart $3.1B over the next five years.
Paul Geller, one of the attorneys involved in the settlement, stated that while we are aware that the crisis was triggered by reckless and profit-driven dispensing methods, we also know that better systems and proper heeding red flag warnings could help pharmacies play a direct part in reducing opioid abuse.
This settlement is the first to be reached with all retail pharmacies nationwide. Since 2017, thousands of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers have been filed over mishandling addictive painkillers.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public emergency.
According to HHS, “Devastating consequences of the opioid crisis include an increase in opioid misuse and overdoses and the rising incidence for newborns suffering withdrawal syndrome from opioid use and misuse during childbirth.”
We reported previously on lawsuits brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton against opioid manufacturers. Texas has secured more than $1.8 billion in compensation from distributors and manufacturers of prescription opioids.
Paxton’s most recent investigation, which was announced in June, involved Walmart pharmacies across Texas to establish liability regarding opioid prescriptions.
A federal jury found two Ohio counties’ opioid crises due to the involvement of several pharmacy chains (including Walgreens and CVS) partially responsible for the Ohio case against them in November 2021.
The Ohio ruling was the first-ever successful decision against the retail pharmacy sector. It opened the door to additional settlements that led to the latest report.
After a lengthy investigation of Walmart over many years, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the U.S. District Court in Delaware in 2020. According to the complaint, the lawsuit claimed that Walmart’s pharmacies had filled thousands upon thousands of “invalid prescriptions” which violated the Controlled Substances Act.
“We entrust distributors to ensure controlled substances don’t fall into the wrong hands,” Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Timothy Shea stated in a statement.
We will hold Walmart and others responsible if processes are broken or ignored to prevent drug diversion. He said that too many people have lost their lives due to oversight and those who are entrusted with the responsibility of filling illegitimate prescriptions.
According to Reuters, previous settlements also reached more than $20 billion from three of the largest American pharmaceutical distributors. Other settlements include $5 billion from Johnson & Johnson and $4.35 billion from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. $2.37 billion was from AbbVie. Endo International received $450 million.
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