CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens have officially agreed to an opioid settlement to the tune of $13.8 billion in order to try and deal with the multiple thousands of lawsuits hitting them across the country, as explained by a recent report.
Walmart is expected to pay $3.1 billion, CVS will pay out $5 billion over the course of 10 years, and Walgreens will shell out $5.7 billion over the course of 15 years, as reported by Reuters.
“We know that reckless, profit-driven dispensing practices fueled the crisis; but we know just as surely that with better systems in place and proper heeding of red flag warnings, pharmacies can play a direct role in reducing opioid abuse and in saving lives,” explained Paul Geller, one of the main lawyers that were part of the settlement, to Reuters.
This settlement is just the first of its kind nationwide to deal with retail pharmaceutical companies. Thousands of various individual lawsuits have been slammed against the creators of opioids since back in 2017 due to the gross mishandling of the destructively addictive medications.
The opioid crisis was officially labeled as an emergency for public health in 2017 by officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“Devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic include increases in opioid misuse and related overdoses, as well as the rising incidence of newborns experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to opioid use and misuse during pregnancy,” as explained by the HHS.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been a large figure in these lawsuits targeting opioid makers. Texas has managed to effectively secure well over $1.8 billion from the distributors and makers of standard prescription opioids.
The most recent investigations from Paxton, which were announced this past June, went after the pharmacies located inside Walmart stores all over the state as a means to determine overall liability concerning prescriptions for opioids.
Back in November of last year, a case from Ohio against a series of pharmacy chains such as Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens, found the retailers at least partly responsible by a federal jury for two counties’ extreme opioid crisis raging across the state.
The decision issued in Ohio was the first successful ruling ever against anything within the retail pharmacy industry, effectively creating a path for further settlements that have resulted in the most recent reports.
The Department of Justice officially filed a lawsuit previously within the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware targeting Walmart back in 2020 after finishing off an investigation of the retailer which spanned multiple years. The suit alleged that the pharmacies in question “filled thousands upon thousands of invalid prescriptions” directly in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, as stated in the complaint.
“We entrust distributors and dispensers with the responsibility to ensure controlled substances do not fall into the wrong hands,” stated Timothy Shea, the Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), via a release.
“When processes to safeguard against drug diversion are violated or ignored, or when pharmacies routinely fill illegitimate prescriptions, we will hold accountable anyone responsible, including Walmart. Too many lives have been lost because of oversight failures and those entrusted with responsibility turning a blind eye,” he went on.
Settlements have previously exceeded more than $20 billion from three of the largest American pharmaceutical distributors, as reported by Reuters.