West Virginia reaches $147M opioid settlement with CVS, Walmart

CVS and Walmart have agreed to pay more than $147 million to settle lawsuits related to their alleged roles in West Virginia’s opioid crisis, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) announced Tuesday.

The state alleged the pharmacies failed to maintain effective controls as a distributor and dispenser against diversion that contributed to oversupply of opioids in the state.

“These settlements won’t bring back the lives lost from the opioid epidemic, but these and other settlements will hopefully provide significant help to those affected the most by this crisis in our state,” Morrisey said in a statement. “This development also avoided a costly and lengthy trial and at the end of the day, West Virginia will have the highest per capita settlement results in the nation fighting for our people.”

Morrisey said Walmart agreed to a settlement of $65,070,000 and CVS agreed to a settlement of $82.5 million. The two were part of a larger trial involving other pharmacies that have yet to settle. 

Litigation against the remaining pharmacy defendants — Walgreens and Kroger — continues before the Mass Litigation Panel with a trial date of June 5.

The lawsuits allege the pharmacies contributed to the oversupply of prescription opioids in the state and caused “significant losses through their past and ongoing medical treatment costs, including for minors born addicted to opioids, rehabilitation costs, naloxone costs, medical examiner expenses, self-funded state insurance costs and other forms of losses to address opioid-related afflictions and loss of lives.”

CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said the agreement includes an initial payment of $52.5 million, followed by annual payments of $3 million for the next 10 years, including legal fees.

“Putting these claims behind us is in the best interest of all parties. Our position remains that opioid prescriptions are written by doctors, not pharmacists, and that opioid medications are made and marketed by manufacturers, not pharmacies. We’ll continue to defend against other lawsuits relating to opioids,” DeAngelis said.

The Hill has reached out to Walmart for comment.

Updated at 5:30 p.m.

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