US pharmacy chains to pay $10b to settle opioid cases

A sign for a CVS Pharmacy in Washington, DC, on November 2, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

NEW YORK, United States — US pharmacy chains CVS Health and Walgreens said Wednesday they had reached preliminary agreements to together pay more than $10 billion to resolve opioid claims from US states, cities, and tribes.اضافة اعلان

The opioid crisis, which has caused more than 500,000 deaths over 20 years in the US, has triggered a flurry of lawsuits against drugmakers, distributors, and pharmacies from victims as well as cities, counties, and states.

The pharmacies’ agreements in principal are for much bigger sums than previously agreed by pharmacy chains, putting that sector in the same ballpark as some drugmakers and distributors that have previously reached multibillion dollar agreements.

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

Lawsuits against the retail chains have alleged the drugstores didn’t do enough to root out the deluge of opioids that have ravaged communities across the US.

The stores have argued they are not responsible for the crisis and that the health care system relies on pharmacies to fill legitimate prescriptions.

CVS and Walgreens each said the settlements include “no admission of wrongdoing or liability” by the companies.

The agreements announced Wednesday are contingent on sufficient approvals by counties, states, tribes, and other political subdivisions and do not cover lawsuits involving private litigants.

Bloomberg News reported that Walmart also reached a tentative agreement involving billions of dollars. A Walmart spokesman declined comment.

CVS said its agreement will involve paying $5 billion to states, political subdivisions, and tribes over the next 10 years, beginning in 2023.

CVS Chief Executive Karen Lynch told an earnings call that the company recognizes “the seriousness of the opioid abuse misconduct has had on so many Americans.”

Walgreens plans payments of about $4.8 billion over 15 years to settling states, plus $144.5 million to Native American tribes over the same period and $753.5 million in attorney’s fees over six years.

Both companies signaled they would continue to fight other lawsuits.

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