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Walmart offers to pay $3.1 billion to settle opioid lawsuits | National

On Tuesday, Walmart proposed a $3.1 billion legal settlement the number of powerful prescription opioids sold in its pharmaciesbecoming the latest major drug industry player to pledge major support to state, local and tribal governments still grappling with the overdose death crisis.

The retail giant’s announcement followed similar offers on Nov. 2 from the two largest U.S. drugstore chains, CVS Health and Walgreen Co., which each said they would pay about $5 billion.

Most of the drug manufacturers that produced the most opioids and the largest drug distribution companies have already reached settlements. With the largest pharmacies now settling, this represents a shift in the opioid litigation saga. For years, the question has been whether the companies will be held responsible for the overdose crisis that has fueled the flood of prescription drugs.

With the crisis still raging, the focus is now on how the settlement dollar – is now over $50 billion — will be used and whether they will help reduce the record number of overdose deaths, even though prescription drugs have become a relatively small part of the epidemic.

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in a statement that it “vigorously disputes” allegations in state and local lawsuits that its pharmacies improperly filled prescriptions for powerful prescription painkillers. The Company shall not be liable for any agreement which will be about 2% of its quarterly revenue.

“Walmart believes the settlement structure is in the best interests of all parties and will provide significant assistance to communities across the country in the fight against the opioid crisis, with aid reaching state and local governments more quickly than any other nationwide opioid settlement to date,” the statement said. companies.

Lawyers representing the local government said the company will pay most of the settlement over the next year, when it is finalized.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a release that the company will have to enforce oversight measures, prevent fake prescriptions and flag those that are suspicious.

Some state lawyers have suggested that Walmart acted more responsibly than other pharmacies when it came to opioids.

“Although Walmart dispensed significantly fewer opioid prescriptions than CVS or Walgreens, since 2018 Walmart has been the most active in trying to track and control the diversion of prescription opioids through its pharmacies,” the statement said. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson.

The deals are the product of negotiations with a group of attorneys general, but they are not final. The CVS and Walgreens deals must first be approved by a critical mass of state and local governments before they can be finalized.

Walmart’s plan must be approved by 43 states by Dec. 15, and local governments can sign off on it by March 31, 2023. The distribution of funds for each state depends in part on how many local governments agree.

“Companies like Walmart must step up and help ensure Pennsylvanians have the resources they need to heal and recover,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who was elected governor of his state last week, said in a statement. “This deal with Walmart adds to the important progress we’ve already made through settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors, and we’re not done yet.”

After governments used tobacco settlement funds for non-public health purposes in the 1990s, opioid settlements were created so that most of the money would go toward fighting the crisis. State and local governments are now developing spending plans.

Opioids of all kinds have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the US over the past two decades.

In the 2000s, most fatal opioid overdoses involved prescription drugs such as OxyContin and generic oxycodone. After governments, doctors and companies took steps to make them more difficult, drug addicts increasingly turned to heroin, which proved more lethal.

In recent years, opioid-related deaths have soared to a record high of about 80,000 a year. Most of these deaths are linked to an illegally manufactured version of the powerful laboratory drug fentanylwhich appears in the entire supply of illegal drugs in the United States.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, copied or distributed without permission.


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