CVS and Walgreens have agreed to pay a total of $10.7 billion to settle two multistate lawsuits for their alleged role in the opioid crisis.
CVS will pay $5 billion over 10 years, while Walgreens will pay $5.7 billion over 15 years, with the settlement calling for funds to be divided among states, local governments and tribes for opioid treatment, recovery, and abatement.
A coalition of 17 state attorneys general negotiated the settlement.
“In New York and across the nation, communities continue to mourn family, friends, and loved ones lost to the opioid crisis,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who co-led the negotiations, said in a statement.
“Though we cannot reverse the devastation, my fellow attorneys general and I are committed to holding those who allowed this epidemic to run rampant through our country to account,” James continued. “We have now recovered $2.5 billion for New York from opioids manufacturers and distributors, and with those funds we will continue to support and expand abatement, treatment, and prevention efforts statewide.”
As part of the settlement, CVS and Walgreens must comply with court-ordered requirements that include robust oversight to identify and prevent fraudulent or suspicious prescriptions.
States have until the end of 2022 to review and sign on to the settlement, while local governments will be able to join the deal in the first quarter of 2023.
Kara Page, manager of corporate communications for CVS, said: “We are pleased to progress to a formal agreement and move forward in the resolution of these claims that date back a decade or more.”
CVS Chief Policy Officer and General Counsel Thomas Moriarty said in a November statement that the agreement is not an admission of any liability or guilt by the company.
“We are pleased to resolve these longstanding claims and putting them behind us in the best interest of all parties, as well as our customers, colleagues and shareholders,” the statement said. “We are committed to working with states, municipalities and tribes, and will continue our own important initiatives to help reduce the illegitimate use of prescription opioids.”
Walgreens, also in a November statement, said the settlement framework will enable the company to keep its focus on the health and wellbeing of its customers and patients, while making positive contributions to address the opioid crisis and that it includes no admission of wrongdoing or liability by the company.
“We believe this is in the best interest of the company and our stakeholders at this time, and allows our pharmacists, dedicated healthcare professionals who live and work in the communities they serve, to continue playing a critical role in providing education and resources to help combat opioid misuse and abuse,” the statement said.
Last month, Walmart Inc. agreed to a $3.1 billion settlement to resolve allegations that the company contributed to the nationwide opioid crisis by failing to regulate opioid prescriptions at its stores. Walmart said at that time in a statement that it strongly disputes the allegations, and the settlement does not include any admission of liability.
“Walmart will continue to vigorously defend the company against any lawsuit not resolved through this settlement framework,” the statement said.