Loading...

CVS, Walgreens and Walmart Settle Opioid Lawsuits for $13B

November 3, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
CVS, Walgreens and Walmart Settle Opioid Lawsuits for $13B
CVS Pharmacy (Photo by Dan McCue)

Drugstore retailers CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens on Wednesday announced a $10 billion settlement of thousands of state and local lawsuits accusing the companies of mishandling their sales of opioid painkillers.

Walmart has tentatively agreed to pay another $3 billion to settle claims.

The agreements could end years of lawsuits if they win final approval from states, cities and counties that sued on behalf of their citizens.

Opioids are powerful painkillers known for giving users a sense of euphoria that can be addictive. They are blamed for more than 500,000 deaths in the United States in the past two decades.

Beginning with an aggressive pharmaceutical company marketing campaign that downplayed dangers of the drug, opioid prescriptions rose in the United States from 76 million in 1991 to 207 million in 2013, when the Food and Drug Administration realized their use was getting out of control.

By 2014, nearly two million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported that 71,238 Americans died from opioids last year, up from 57,834 in 2020.

Persons who became addicted to the drugs, or families of the deceased victims, sued pharmaceutical companies that manufactured them and their distributors, such as CVS, Walgreens and Walmart.

The manufacturers have already settled for $26 billion. They included Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp.

The retailers said doctors who prescribed the drugs should be blamed, not the drugstores. Their legal defense met with different degrees of success or failure in various states.

The lawsuits accused the companies of filling vast numbers of opioid prescriptions that were not medically necessary.

The lawsuits were consolidated into class actions that were being handled primarily by federal courts in Ohio and San Francisco. Settlement discussions with state attorneys general started shortly after the companies lost key legal battles in both courts.

The settlement money is supposed to be used to control drug addictions in states and cities that will share the money.

“We are pleased to resolve these longstanding claims and putting them behind us is in the best interest of all parties, as well as our customers, colleagues and shareholders,” Thomas Moriarty, CVS chief policy officer and general counsel, said in a statement.

Walgreens said in a statement: “As one of the largest pharmacy chains in the nation, we remain committed to being a part of the solution, and this settlement framework will allow us to keep our focus on the health and wellbeing of our customers and patients, while making positive contributions to address the opioid crisis.”

A statement from lawyers for local governments said, “These agreements will be the first resolutions reached with pharmacy chains and will equip communities across the country with the much-needed tools to fight back against this epidemic and bring about tangible, positive change.”

Tom can be reached at tom@thewellnews.com or on Twitter at @tramstack.

In The News

Health

Voting

Prescription Drugs

Probe: Alzheimer's Drug Approval 'Rife With Irregularities'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration’s contentious approval of a questionable Alzheimer’s drug took another hit Thursday as... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration’s contentious approval of a questionable Alzheimer’s drug took another hit Thursday as congressional investigators called the process “rife with irregularities.” The 18-month investigation by two House committees detailed “atypical collaboration” between FDA regulators and a company it’s supposed... Read More

December 14, 2022
by Dan McCue
Japanese Pharma Firm to Pay $4B for Single Drug

TOKYO — Japanese Pharma firm Takeda has agreed to pay $4 billion in cash for a single drug invented by... Read More

TOKYO — Japanese Pharma firm Takeda has agreed to pay $4 billion in cash for a single drug invented by Nimbus Therapeutics, a Boston, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company. The drug Takeda is buying (NDI-034858) blocks selective allosteric tyrosine kinase 2 (also known as TYK2), a signaling protein... Read More

December 7, 2022
by Dan McCue
US Seeks to Delay Talks on Extension of WTO COVID Patent Waivers

WASHINGTON — The United States will not support extending a Dec. 17 deadline for waiving intellectual property protection for COVID-19... Read More

WASHINGTON — The United States will not support extending a Dec. 17 deadline for waiving intellectual property protection for COVID-19 tests and treatments, and instead is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission to first investigate market dynamics such as pricing, supply and demand before it chooses... Read More

Speedier Drug Approvals Hit Slowdown as FDA Faces Scrutiny

WASHINGTON (AP) — Expedited drug approvals slowed this year as the Food and Drug Administration's controversial accelerated pathway came under... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — Expedited drug approvals slowed this year as the Food and Drug Administration's controversial accelerated pathway came under new scrutiny from Congress, government watchdogs and some of the agency’s own leaders. With less than a month remaining in the year, the FDA’s drug center... Read More

November 3, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
CVS, Walgreens and Walmart Settle Opioid Lawsuits for $13B

Drugstore retailers CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens on Wednesday announced a $10 billion settlement of thousands of state and local lawsuits... Read More

Drugstore retailers CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens on Wednesday announced a $10 billion settlement of thousands of state and local lawsuits accusing the companies of mishandling their sales of opioid painkillers. Walmart has tentatively agreed to pay another $3 billion to settle claims. The agreements could end... Read More

Biden Pushing Lower Prescription Drug Costs in Midterm Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to highlight his administration’s efforts to lower prescription drug costs on... Read More

LOS ANGELES (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to highlight his administration’s efforts to lower prescription drug costs on Friday as part of his three-state Western tour this week, as he confronts a sobering inflation report in the waning weeks before midterm elections. Biden will... Read More

News From The Well