Two people familiar with the negotiations claimed CVS Health Corp (CVS.N), Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc (WBA.O), and Walmart Inc (WMT.N) have provisionally agreed to spend about $13.8 billion to resolve thousands of local and state governments lawsuits accusing the chains of improperly handling opioid painkillers.
Those persons stated the proposed settlement asks for Walmart to settle $3.1 billion, primarily up front, and Walgreens and CVS to each pay $5 billion over ten years. The sources declined to give their names because they claimed they weren’t allowed to discuss the situation in public.
Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart all declined to comment. Requests for comment from a representative of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the case were not immediately answered.
The settlement agreement, which would mark the first national agreement with retail pharmacy businesses, comes after federal opioid settlements totalling more than $33 billion with drug manufacturers and distributors.
State and municipal governments charged drug companies with downplaying the hazards associated with their opioid painkillers, and wholesalers and pharmacies with ignoring warning signs that prescriptions were just being diverted into criminal trafficking, in more than 3,300 cases filed since 2017.
They claimed that the human toll and strain on public health and law enforcement were a general menace that the firms should foot the bill to remedy.
The three biggest retail pharmaceuticals in the nation by market share are CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. Even while charges against smaller, more locally focused pharmacy owners like Rite Aid Corp (RAD.N) and Kroger Co. are still pending if their settlement is approved, it will conclude much of the extensive, years-long litigation involving opioids (KR.N).
A $650.6 million verdict against Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA.O), CVS, and Walmart Inc. (WMT.N) was obtained by two Ohio counties on behalf of the plaintiffs. Additionally, it was determined that Walgreens was responsible for the San Francisco opioid epidemic.
The three biggest U.S. drug distributors paid out $21 billion in prior settlements, $5 billion from powerhouse Johnson & Johnson, big baggage of $4.35 billion from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., $450 million from Endo International Plc, and $2.37 billion from AbbVie Inc.
In order to battle the opioid problem, based on federal government data, has resulted in close to 650,000 overdose deaths since 1999 and is only getting worse, state and local authorities have said that they will use the funds from the settlements.
The 1990s saw a huge increase in opioid prescriptions as businesses aggressively advertised the drugs—long used largely in cancer patients—as a secure means of managing all forms of chronic pain.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated opioid overdoses—including those involving prescription drugs and heroin—rose sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic, rising 38% in 2020 over the prior year and another 15% in 2021.
The government believes that fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid produced illegally, is mostly to blame for the recent spike in overdose cases.
According to a congressional assessment released last month, the opioid crisis will cost the economy $1.5 trillion in 2020 alone.