The settlement process for the various lawsuits brought by states, local governments and tribes over retailers’ alleged mishandling of opioid prescriptions is moving forward. Walmart has reached settlement agreements with all 50 states, exceeding the 43 states required to join the $3.1 billion settlement framework by Dec. 15. The agreements include four states that previously settled with Walmart in addition to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and three other U.S. territories. The full settlement will take effect if a sufficient number of cities and counties also join.
While Walmart acknowledges the settlements are in the best interest of all parties and can provide aid to communities, the company disputes the allegations and does not admit liability. The retailer noted that it will continue to defend itself against lawsuits that are not resolved through these settlement agreements.
“Walmart is helping fight the opioid crisis and is proud of its pharmacists, who help patients understand the risks about opioid prescriptions,” said the company in a statement. “The company has adopted many approaches to fighting the opioid crisis as part of its industry-leading Opioid Stewardship program.”
In November 2021, an Ohio federal jury ruled that Walmart, CVS Health and Walgreens contributed to opioid overdoses and deaths in the state’s Lake and Trumbull counties, according to The New York Times.
Walmart agreed in November 2022 to its settlement framework shortly after Walgreens and CVS agreed to a $10 billion settlement in the nationwide opioid lawsuits brought by states, local governments and tribes that claimed the retailers mishandled painkiller prescriptions. CVS agreed to pay approximately $4.9 billion to states and political subdivisions and approximately $130 million to tribes over 10 years beginning in 2023. Walgreens will pay up to approximately $4.95 billion over the next 15 years to settle claims by states, subdivisions and tribes. CVS and Walgreens also emphasized that the settlements are not admissions of liability and noted they also have taken steps to combat the opioid crisis.