Walmart proposes $3.1 billion opioid settlement after lawsuits

The total of proposed and completed settlements over the past few years totals more than $50 billion, most of which is set to be used by governments.

Retail giant Walmart on Tuesday became the latest major player in the drug industry to announce a plan to resolve lawsuits filed by state and local governments over the toll of strong prescription opioids sold at its dispensaries with state and local governments in were sold to the United States

The $3.1 billion proposal follows similar announcements made Nov. 2 by the two largest US pharmacy chains, CVS Health and Walgreen Co., which each said they would pay about $5 billion.

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said in a statement that it “strongly denies” allegations in lawsuits filed by state and local governments that its pharmacies failed to properly fill prescriptions for the powerful prescription pain relievers. The Company admits no liability for the Settlement Scheme.

RELATED: CVS, Walgreens Announce Opioid Settlements Totaling $10 Billion

New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a press release that the company must comply with regulatory measures, prevent fraudulent prescriptions and flag suspects.

Lawyers representing local governments said the company will pay most of the settlement next year when it is finalized.

The agreements are the result of negotiations with a group of attorney generals, 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 would have to be approved by 43 states. The formal procedure has not yet started.

The national pharmacies join some of the largest drug manufacturers and drug distributors in settling complex lawsuits over their alleged role in an opioid overdose epidemic that has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the United States over the past two decades.

The balance of proposed and completed settlements in recent years is more than 50 billion dollarsmost of which is to be used by governments to combat the crisis.

In the 2000s, most fatal opioid overdoses involved prescription drugs such as OxyContin and generic oxycodone. After governments, doctors and corporations took action to reduce access to drugs, drug addicts increasingly turned to heroin, which proved to be more deadly.

In recent years, opioid deaths have risen to a record high of around 80,000 a year. Most of these deaths involve an illegally manufactured version of the potent laboratory-made drug fentanyl, which is found throughout the US illicit drug supply. Walmart proposes $3.1 billion opioid settlement after lawsuits

Laura Coffey

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