Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens have tentatively agreed to pay $13.8 billion to resolve thousands of lawsuits alleging improper handling of opioid painkillers by pharmacy owners.
CVS said Wednesday it had agreed to pay about $5 billion over 10 years and Walgreens reported it had agreed to pay about $5.7 billion to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over 15 years. There was no admittance of wrongdoing by either company. Walmart agreed to pay $3.1 billion, mostly upfront.
In the past two decades, the US opioid crisis has resulted in more than 500,000 overdose deaths and more than 80,000 just in 2021 alone. In 2020, 9.5 million Americans aged 12 and older misused opioids, including 9.3 million prescription pain reliever abusers and 902,000 heroin users.
The settlements with pharmacies will raise billions of dollars for communities in urgent need of funds to combat opioid addiction, according to one of the lawyers, Paul Geller, who negotiated for the government.