Walmart offers $3.1 billion to settle opioid epidemic lawsuits –

Walmart has become the latest major drugstore chain in the United States to propose a settlement to resolve allegations that it contributed to the national opioid crisis by failing to regulate prescriptions at its outlets.

The retail giant confirmed it had offered $3.1 billion to settle thousands of pending local and tribal state government lawsuits, adding to nearly $10 billion promised by rival pharmacy chains CVS Health and Walgreens a few weeks ago. The finer details of that earlier offering are still being discussed.

Along with its peers, Walmart denies any allegation that it was guilty of being behind the opioid epidemic, which continues to claim lives with 108,000 drug overdose-related deaths in the United States in 2021 , according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ).

In a statementWalmart said it will “provide significant help to communities across the country in the fight against the opioid crisis,” adding that its deal will see “help flow to state and local governments faster than any other national settlement.” on opioids to date” if all regulatory requirements are met.

Its program aims to educate pharmacists and the public about opioid abuse, reduce the amount of opioids dispensed, take steps to prevent diversion and theft, and increase access to reversal medications. overdoses.

“Pharmacies such as Walmart have played an undeniable role in perpetuating the destruction of opioids, and my fellow attorneys general and I hold them accountable,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

She added that the regulation will include “general court-imposed requirements that Walmart must comply with, such as strong oversight to prevent fraudulent orders and report suspicious orders.”

The deal still needs to gain the support of the required 43 U.S. states by the end of 2022, which would then allow local governments to join the deal in the first quarter of 2023.

Pharmacy chains are following in the footsteps of the big three U.S. wholesale distributors – McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen – which agreed a $21 billion settlement earlier this year.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical makers also negotiated multi-billion dollar settlements, including $5 billion for Johnson & Johnson, around $4.3 billion for Teva pharmaceutical$2.4 billion for AbbVie, $1.7 billion for Mallinckrodtand $450 million for Endo Pharma.

Purdue Pharma is also trying to reach its own $6 billion deal, although that has stalled as some plaintiffs are reluctant to agree to a settlement that grants immunity to the Sackler family, which controls the company.