CVS has agreed to pay $5 billion to settle lawsuits filed by states and local governments alleging retailers misused opioid painkillers.
Two other major retailers — Walgreens and Walmart — have agreed to pay billions of dollars to settle similar lawsuits, according to reports from Bloomberg and Reuters.
The deal calls for Walgreens to pay at least $4 billion and Walmart $3 billion, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
The deal won’t be finalized until enough states, counties and cities agree to the terms, Bloomberg said.
CNN has contacted the companies for comment.
CVS said it will pay states over 10 years, beginning in 2023, if the decision is reached.
CVS General Counsel Thomas Moriarty said: “We are pleased to resolve and put these outstanding claims behind us in the best interest of all parties, including our customers, colleagues and shareholders.” “We are committed to working with states, municipalities and tribes, and continue our own important initiatives to reduce the illegal use of prescription opioids.”
US states, cities and counties have filed more than 3,000 lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies for failing to reduce the risk of addiction and stop the pills being taken for illegal use.
More than 500,000 overdose deaths are to blame for the U.S. opioid crisis, including more than 80,000 in 2021 alone, government data show.In 2020, 9.5 million Americans ages 12 and older reported abusing opioids. 9.3 million prescription painkiller abusers and 902,000 heroin users.
Meanwhile, synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, accounted for nearly two-thirds of the more than 100,000 drug overdoses in the U.S. in the 12 months ending in April 2021 — up 49 percent from last year — the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found. .
Opioids are drugs designed to mimic the pain-relieving properties of opiates and include prescription pain relievers such as morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone, and illegal drugs such as heroin and the illegally manufactured fentanyl.
People who are dependent on opioids may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using them, and dependence is often combined with tolerance, meaning users must take increasing amounts to get the same effect.
In August, a federal judge ruled that CVS, Walgreens and Walmart must pay two Ohio counties $650.6 million in damages related to the opioid crisis. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2018 as part of a federal multidistrict litigation that was created that year to resolve various claims against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries announced in July that it offered $4.35 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits against the nationwide drugmaker’s alleged role in the U.S. opioid epidemic.
Purdue Pharma — whose painkiller OxyContin is widely blamed for starting the opioid crisis — and the Sackler family announced a settlement with a group of states in March that would pay the Sacklers up to $6 billion to states, individual claimants and opioid crisis relief, if approved by a federal bankruptcy court judge.
And Johnson & Johnson and the three largest U.S. drug distributors — McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and AmerisourceBergen Corp — completed a $26 billion nationwide opioid settlement in February.