W.Va. reaches $147.5M settlement with Walmart, CVS

AP Photo West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey presents opening arguments on April4, the first day of the trial against opioid drug manufacturers, in Charleston. The state of West Virginia has settled two opioid cases with Walmart and CVS for $147.5 million, the Attorney General announced Tuesday.

CHARLESTON — The state of West Virginia has settled two opioid cases with Walmart and CVS for $147.5 million, the Attorney General announced Tuesday.

The settlement resolves lawsuits alleging the pharmacies failed to maintain effective controls as a distributor and dispenser against diversion that contributed to oversupply of opioids in the state, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said.

“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. “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 $65.070 million and CVS for $82.5 million, Morrisey said. The CVS deal comes with a 2.25% Most Favored Nation protection, a guarantee that West Virginia won’t be prejudiced by a future national settlement, Morrisey said.

“This is once again putting West Virginia in a position to be first in the nation in terms of per capita opioid settlements,” Morrisey said during the late afternoon press conference that was streamed online.

Kara Page, manager of Corporate Communications for CVS, said the agreement resolves state and municipal opioid claims and CVS will no longer be a defendant in the state’s lawsuit. The agreement includes an initial payment of $52.5 million followed by annual payments of $3 million for the next 10 years, including legal fees.

“Putting these claims behind us is in the best interest of all parties. Our position remains that opioid prescriptions are written by doctors, not pharmacists, and that opioid medications are made and marketed by manufacturers, not pharmacies,” Page said. “We’ll continue to defend against other lawsuits relating to opioids.”

The two companies are part of a larger trial involving other major pharmacies. Litigation against remaining pharmacy defendants Walgreens and Kroger continues before the Mass Litigation Panel. Trial is scheduled on June 5.

Recently, Morrisey announced a settlement with Rite Aid for up to $30 million to resolve similar 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.”

Money from all opioid settlements will be distributed under the terms of the West Virginia First Memorandum of Understanding, Morrisey said.

Announced in mid-February, the memorandum is an agreement with the state 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.


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