US pharmacies agree to $10bn opioid litigation settlement
CVS Health and Walgreens have become the first two US pharmacy chains to agree a settlement worth over $10bn in response to the roles they played in the US opioid epidemic. Both deny culpability.
US pharmacies are facing opioid-related lawsuits from individual states, subdivisions and Native American tribes. CVS has agreed to pay $5bn over ten years, with Walgreens agreeing to $5.7bn over 15 years.
They have also agreed to practical measures to try to combat opioid use disorder (OUD), such as providing safe and convenient disposal facilities for medicines, stricter security measures to prevent theft and technology to help pharmacists determine legitimate medical prescriptions.
Other pharmacy chains are following. According to Reuters, Walmart is close to agreeing to an upfront payment of $3.1bn to extricate itself from the litigation.
Wholesale distributers and manufacturers are also settling. Earlier this year, three US wholesaler distributers ‒ McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen ‒ agreed to $21bn. In the manufacturing industry, Johnson & Johnson paid $5bn, Teva Pharmaceutical paid around $4.3bn, with $2.4bn for AbbVie, $1.7bn for Mallinckrodt and $450m for Endo Pharma.
All funds collected from proceedings are earmarked for a range of remediation efforts to combat the opioid crisis, including campaigns to raise awareness, provision of overdose reversal agents such as naloxone, treatments for OUD and rehabilitation services.