CVS, Walmart, Walgreens Agree To $13.8 Billion Opioid Settlement: Report | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Dillon Burroughs.

    CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens have agreed to a $13.8 billion opioid settlement to resolve thousands of nationwide lawsuits, according to a new report.

    CVS will pay $5 billion over 10 years, Walgreens $5.7 billion over 15 years, and Walmart $3.1 billion, according to 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," Paul Geller, one of the lawyers involved in the settlement, told Reuters.

    The settlement is the first nationwide deal with retail pharmaceutical companies. Thousands of individual lawsuits have been brought against opioid makers since 2017 over the mishandling of the addictive painkillers.

    The nation's opioid crisis was declared a public health emergency in 2017 by 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," according to the HHS.

    The Daily Wire previously reported on lawsuits from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton against opioid makers. Texas has secured more than $1.8 billion from the makers and distributors of prescription opioids.

    Paxton's latest investigation, announced in June, included Walmart pharmacies across Texas to determine liability regarding opioid prescriptions.

    In November 2021, an Ohio case against several pharmacy chains, including Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens, found the retailers partially responsible by a federal jury for two counties' opioid crises in the state.

    The Ohio decision was the first-ever successful ruling against the retail pharmacy industry, opening the path for additional settlements that have led to the most recent report.

    The Department of Justice previously filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware against Walmart in 2020 after concluding a multi-year investigation of the retailer. The lawsuit alleged that its pharmacies "filled thousands upon thousands of invalid prescriptions" in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, according to the complaint.

    "We entrust distributors and dispensers with the responsibility to ensure controlled substances do not fall into the wrong hands," Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Timothy Shea said in a statement.

    "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 added.

    Previous settlements have also exceeded more than $20 billion from the three largest American pharmaceutical distributors, according to Reuters. Other distributor settlements have included $5 billion from Johnson & Johnson, $4.35 billion from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, $2.37 billion from AbbVie, and $450 million from Endo International.
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