CVS Health and Walgreen Co. to pay $5B each in Opioid Settlement

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CVS Health and Walgreen Co., two of America’s largest pharmaceutical chains, have announced agreements in principle Wednesday to pay about $5 billion each to settle nationwide lawsuits over the toll of opioids, CBS News reported.

These two chains are the first major pharmacies in the country to settle lawsuits over prescriptions for opioid painkillers. CBS News reported that CVS would be paying $5 billion in 10 year payments.

CVS’s proposed deal was announced on Wednesday just as the company released its quarterly earnings. CBS News reported that although the company did not admit to wrongdoing or liability, it said that nonfinancial terms were still being resolved. However, the settlement resulted in a loss of $3.4 billion for the quarter.

“We are pleased to resolve these longstanding claims and putting them behind us is in the best interest of all parties, as well as our customers, colleagues and shareholders,”Thomas Moriarty was the CVS chief officer and general counsel, according to a statement. “We are committed to working with states, municipalities and tribes, and will continue our own important initiatives to help reduce the illegitimate use of prescription opioids.”

Opioids, the powerful and addictive class of both prescription and illegal drugs, have been the cause for  more than 500,000 overdose deaths over the past two decades including more than 80,000 in 2021 alone, CNN reported.

Walgreens has in the interim disclosed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissions (SEC), that it had made an agreement to pay $5.7 billion over the course of 15 years. Reuters reported.

Reuters stated that Walgreens has not admitted any wrongdoing.

CVS and Walgreens stated that their agreements would not become final until certain terms are worked out. According to Reuters the total amount could also be reduced if enough government plaintiffs sign up.

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