Walmart agrees to pay $3.1 billion for the sale of opioids in its pharmacies

Walmart on Tuesday proposed a $3.1 billion legal settlement over the toll of strong prescription opioids sold in its pharmacies, becoming the latest major pharma player to pledge major support to state, local and local governments. tribes still grappling with an overdose death crisis.

The retail giant’s announcement follows similar proposals made on Nov. 2 by the two largest U.S. drugstore chains, CVS Health and Walgreen Co., which each said they would pay around $5 billion .

Most of the drugmakers that have produced the most opioids and the biggest drug distribution companies have already struck deals. With the installation of the largest pharmacies, this represents a change in the saga of opioid litigation. For years, the question was whether the companies would be held responsible for an overdose crisis that a flood of prescription drugs had helped trigger.

As the crisis still rages, the focus is now on how the settlement dollars – which now total more than $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.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart said in a statement it “strongly disputes” allegations in lawsuits from state and local governments that its pharmacies misfilled prescriptions for powerful prescription painkillers. . The company does not admit liability with the settlement plan. The settlement would represent approximately 2% of its quarterly revenue.

“Walmart believes that the settlement framework 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 assistance reaching state and local governments faster than any other national opioid regulations to date,” the company said in a statement.

Lawyers representing local governments said the company would pay most of the settlement over the next year if it is finalized.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement that the company should comply with surveillance measures, prevent fraudulent prescriptions and report suspicious prescriptions.

The agreements are the product of negotiations with a group of state attorneys general, but they are not final. The CVS and Walgreens deals would first have to be accepted by a critical mass of state and local governments before they go through. Walmart’s plan is expected to be approved by 43 states. The formal process has not yet started.

After governments used funds from tobacco settlements in the 1990s for purposes unrelated to public health, opioid settlements were designed to ensure that most of the money went to the fight against crisis. State and local governments are currently developing spending plans.

Opioids of all kinds have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the United States 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 corporations moved to make them harder to obtain, addicts increasingly turned to heroin, which proved more deadly.

In recent years, opioid-related deaths have reached record highs of around 80,000 per year. Most of these deaths involve an illicitly produced version of the powerful lab-made drug fentanyl, which appears throughout the US illegal drug supply.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: