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CVS, Walmart reach opioid settlement with West Virginia


(Reuters) — CVS Health Corp. and Walmart Inc. have agreed to pay $147.5 million to settle West Virginia’s claims over their alleged roles in the state’s opioid crisis, state attorney general Patrick Morrisey said Tuesday.

CVS agreed to pay $82.5 million, and Walmart agreed to pay approximately $65 million, according to the state.

West Virginia had been prepared to proceed to trial on Sept. 26 against the two companies, as well as Walgreens Boots Alliance. 

The state had accused the pharmacy chains of fueling the deadly opioid epidemic through their allegedly lax oversight of prescription pills sold in the state.

Walgreens has not settled, and a trial has been rescheduled for June 2023.

“We believe that we have a very strong case against Walgreens,” Morrisey said at a news conference. “We're going to pursue that quite vigorously.”

Kroger Co. will also be a defendant in the rescheduled June 2023 trial.

West Virginia has been particularly hard hit by the epidemic, with a per capita opioid mortality rate over three times the national average in 2020, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

CVS said that it will continue to defend itself in other opioid lawsuits but believed that “putting these claims behind us” was the right decision in the West Virginia case.

“Our position remains that opioid prescriptions are written by doctors, not pharmacists, and that opioid medications are made and marketed by manufacturers, not pharmacies,” a CVS spokesman said.

Walmart and Walgreens did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

More than 3,300 lawsuits have been filed against drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies over the crisis.