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Walmart, CVS resolve suits over West Virginia’s opioid claims

by LEAH WILLINGHAM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | September 22, 2022 at 7:08 a.m.
FILE - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey presents opening arguments on April 4, 2022, the first day of the trial against opioid drug manufacturers, in Charleston, W.Va. A lawsuit filed by the state of West Virginia accusing several drug manufacturers of misrepresenting the risks of their painkilling drugs will go to trial in April 2023, Morrisey said Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. (Kenny Kemp/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP, File)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Walmart Inc. and CVS Pharmacy Inc. have settled with the state of West Virginia for a combined total of $147 million in a lawsuit over the companies' roles in contributing to the oversupply of prescription drugs that fueled the opioid epidemic in the country's most affected state, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Tuesday.

Walmart and CVS were two lawsuits that were part of a larger trial that was pushed back to June 2023, along with Kroger Co. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Morrisey recently announced a settlement with Rite Aid Corp. for up to $30 million to resolve similar litigation.

The lawsuits allege the pharmacies' contributions 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."

It brings the total settlements by the state in opioid lawsuits to $875 million, including $296 million with manufacturers, $400 million with wholesalers and $177.5 million involving pharmacies.

"These settlements won't bring back the lives lost from the opioid epidemic, but these and other settlements will hopefully provide significant help to those affected the most by this crisis in our state," Morrisey said during a news conference. "This development also avoided a costly and lengthy trial and at the end of the day, West Virginia will have the highest per capita settlement results in the nation fighting for our people."

Walmart agreed to a settlement of just over $65 million, and CVS Pharmacy agreed to $82.5 million. Morrisey said the deal with CVS Pharmacy includes a provision that means West Virginia can still receive money from any future national settlements that arise.

The money from all opioid settlements will be distributed throughout the state to abate the opioid crisis.

In August, West Virginia cities and counties reached a $400 million tentative settlement with three major U.S. drug distributors: AmerisourceBergen Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp. In April, Morrisey announced the state would receive $99 million in a settlement finalized with Johnson & Johnson's subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.

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