Two US pharmacy chains have tentatively settled lawsuits brought by state, local, and tribal governments that claimed they engaged in reckless behaviour that contributed to the opioid crisis.
CVS Health and Walgreens announced agreements under which they would pay about $5 billion each. Walmart is also reportedly in talks for a deal that could raise the total by additional billions.
Settlements with pharmacies “will bring billions of additional dollars to communities that are desperate for funds to combat the epidemic” of opioid addiction, according to Paul Geller, one of the attorneys who negotiated for the governments.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 699,000 deaths since 1999 have been associated with the opioid crisis (CDC). Additionally, a number of lawsuits have been filed against drug manufacturers and distributors because of actions that some claim made the crisis worse and allowed them to make money.
With more than 3,300 lawsuits filed against drugmakers, distributors, and pharmacies since 2017, the potential agreements could be the last significant round of settlements regarding the contribution of various corporations to the opioid crisis.
According to lawsuits filed against CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, these businesses continued to fill prescriptions even when there were indications that their opioids were being used for illegal purposes.
A $650 million verdict in favour of two Ohio counties against CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, as well as a finding that Walgreens had contributed to the opioid problem in San Francisco, California, were among the notable trial victories for the plaintiffs against pharmacy corporations.
Purdue Pharma LP and its Sackler family owners are attempting to settle opioid allegations made against them through a $6 billion settlement in bankruptcy court. OxyContin, a prescription painkiller, is widely regarded as having started the addiction and overdose problem.
At a bankruptcy court hearing in March, victims and loved ones of those who perished in the opioid crisis passionately challenged the Sackler family about their part in the epidemic.