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Friday, December 2, 2022

CVS and Walgreens Are Getting Close to Striking a $10 Billion Deal to Settle Opioid Cases

Both CVS and Walgreens have reached an agreement in principle to pay a total of $10 billion to resolve civil lawsuits launched against them by state and local governments over allegations that the pharmacies improperly handled prescriptions for opioid medicines.

According to Bloomberg, which cited persons familiar with the situation, Walmart has also reportedly agreed in principle to pay $3 billion to resolve charges that are comparable to those. According to the source, the contents of the deal won’t be formalised until a sufficient number of states, counties, and cities agree to it.

CVS has stated that in the event that a settlement is achieved, it will pay the states about $5 billion over the course of ten years beginning in 2023. In addition, Walgreens stated that it will pay around $5 billion in remedial payments spread out over a period of 15 years.

More than 3,000 lawsuits have been filed against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies in the United States. The lawsuits accuse the defendants of playing down the risk of addiction and failing to prevent pills from being diverted for illegal use. The lawsuits have been filed by cities, counties, and states in the United States.

The opioid crisis in the United States is responsible for more than 500,000 overdose deaths in the past two decades, including more than 80,000 deaths in 2021 alone, according to data compiled by the government. In 2020, it was estimated that 9.5 million Americans aged 12 and older had abused opioids, including 9.3 million people who abused prescription pain relievers and 902,000 people who used heroin.

Painkillers available by prescription, such as morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone, as well as illicit substances, such as heroin and fentanyl produced by illicit means, are examples of opiates. Opioids are drugs that are designed to imitate the effects of opiates, which are substances that relieve pain.

People who become dependent on opioids may have withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. Dependence is frequently accompanied with tolerance, which means that users need to take ever higher dosages to achieve the same effect. Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable.

A decision made in August by a federal judge mandated that CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart pay a total of $650.6 million to two counties in Ohio as compensation for losses caused by the opioid crisis. The class action complaint was first submitted in 2018 as part of a federal multi-district litigation that was established in 2018 to handle the myriad of claims lodged against opioid makers and distributors.

In July, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries made public its intention to offer a countrywide settlement in the amount of $4.35 billion, with the goal of resolving the hundreds of lawsuits that have been filed against the company because of its claimed participation in the opioid crisis in the United States.

In March, Purdue Pharma and the Sackler families announced a settlement with a group of states that would require the Sacklers to pay out as much as $6 billion to states, individual claimants, and opioid crisis abatement, if approved by a judge in a federal bankruptcy court. It is widely believed that the painkiller OxyContin is to blame for the start of the opioid crisis.

And in February, Johnson & Johnson and the three largest drug distributors in the United States – McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc, and AmerisourceBergen Corp – came to an agreement on a countrywide opioid settlement that was worth $26 billion.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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