West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Wednesday announced a settlement has been reached between his office and Walgreens for $83 million. The settlement resolves a lawsuit that alleged the pharmacy chain failed to maintain effective controls as a distributor and dispenser against diversion that contributed to oversupply of opioids in the state.
“We will continue to seek out justice for those affected the most by the opioid epidemic that hit our state the hardest,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “This and other settlements will not bring back the lives lost from the opioid menace, but our hope is that the money would provide significant help to those affected the most by this crisis in West Virginia.”
Walgreens has agreed to pay the settlement within an eight-year period.
Walgreens is part of a larger litigation involving other major pharmacies – Kroger, Walmart, CVS and Rite Aid.
Walmart and CVS settled with the state last September: Walmart agreed to a settlement of $65,070,000; CVS for $82.5 million.
Last August, Rite Aid settled for up to $30 million to resolve similar litigation.
Kroger is the last remaining defendant in this litigation.
The lawsuits allege the pharmacies’ contribution to the oversupply of prescription opioids in the state have 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.”
“So many lives have been lost and shattered by this menace,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “We will continue to fight for those families and we will serve as the voices of the sons and daughters they have lost.”
The money from all opioid settlements will be distributed under the terms of the West Virginia First Memorandum of Understanding. Announced last year, the MOU is an agreement with the state and local governments on how future settlement dollars would be used to abate the opioid crisis throughout the state. It contains a comprehensive plan to use those funds to abate the massive problems caused by the flood of opioids into West Virginia.