W.Va. settles opioid lawsuits with Walmart, CVS for $147.5M
The state plans to address the drug crisis by boosting law enforcement, treatment opportunities, and education and prevention programs
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
CHARLESTON, W. Va. — West Virginia has reached a settlement of $147.5 million with Walmart and CVS in opioid lawsuits.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey made the announcement Tuesday afternoon during a live stream briefing.
The lawsuits alleged the pharmacies "failed to maintain effective controls as a distributor and dispenser against diversion that contributed to oversupply of opioids in the state."
Walmart agreed to a settlement of $65 million and CVS for $82.5 million. Morrisey said the CVS deal comes with a 2.25 percent Most Favored Nation protection—a guarantee that West Virginia won't be prejudiced by a future national settlement.
Lawsuits against Walgreens and Kroger are scheduled to go to trial in June 2023.
Morrisey said this settlement brings the total so far from opioid lawsuits to $874 million, and that includes $296 million from opioid manufacturers, $400 million from wholesalers and another $30 million from a previous settlement with Rite Aid.
"No other state has done this," he said of West Virginia getting such results by going on its own rather than being bound by a national settlement and now being first in the nation in per capita opioid settlements.
"To be clear, we are not done yet," he said, and justice will be pursued on behalf of every citizen impacted by the opioid epidemic that saw enormous amounts of the drugs being pushed in West Virginia and causing thousands of overdose deaths. "We can't take back the loss of lives and the pain ... but companies are being held accountable."
Morrisey said the total settlements in these cases should "very likely" amount to over $1 billion for the state "when all is said and done."
Morrisey also said almost all of the political subdivisions in the state, including all 55 counties and 217 of the 229 cities, have now agreed to the West Virginia First MOU (memorandum of understanding) on how all of the settlement money will be divided and spent.
The approval was necessary before "any money flows."
This allows West Virginia to attack the opioid crisis by spending the money "legally and appropriately" by boosting law enforcement, treatment opportunities, and education and prevention programs.
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The MOU calls for 3 percent of the money for the state, 72.5 percent for statewide and regional programs in treatment and prevention, and 24.5 percent to counties, cities and towns for local efforts on fighting and treating addiction.
"This is a great day for West Virginia," he said. "This is really exciting news."
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."
Morrisey said the $874 million is the gross amount and attorneys fees will also need to be deducted.
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