CVS Health and Walgreens Co., the two largest drugstore chains in the United States, on Wednesday announced in-principle agreements to pay nearly $5 billion to settle lawsuits over the opioid crisis. A lawyer said Walmart, the third largest in the sector, is in talks for the deal.
The settlements are part of a shift in the legal landscape of the opioid epidemic. Instead of suspense over whether companies in the pharmaceutical industry will be held accountable in lawsuits and settlements, the question now is how their money will be used and whether it will make a difference in dealing with the crisis that has escalated.
If completed, the settlement would eliminate thousands of lawsuits, in which state and local governments said pharmacies covered prescriptions they should have flagged as unsuitable. The new developments could be the last multi-billion dollar deal to be announced, with deals already proposed or finalized between some of the largest drug manufacturers and distributors.
In addition, they would bring the total value of settlements to more than $50 billion, with a requirement that most of that amount be used by state and local governments to combat opioids, the abuse of which has been linked to more than half a million deaths. Is. deaths in the United States over the past two decades.
“He’s yet another criminal in an overdose crisis paying off his debt,” said Courtney Gary-Allen, organizing director for the Maine Recovery Advocacy Project. “Ordinary Americans have been paying for a long time.”
Gary Allen, a council member who will determine how Maine uses its settlement funds in the crisis, said the availability of more funds to tackle the problem would be beneficial. In his state, he says, needs include more detox and treatment beds.
Neither CVS nor Walgreens has acknowledged any wrongdoing.
Under the tentative plans, CVS will pay $4.9 billion to state governments and about $130 million to Indian tribes over a decade. Walgreens will pay $4.8 billion to local governments and $155 million to tribes over 15 years.