West Virginia attorney general announces $83M Walgreens opioid settlement News
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West Virginia attorney general announces $83M Walgreens opioid settlement

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Wednesday that pharmacy retailer Walgreens has agreed to pay an $83 million settlement over its opioid distribution practices within an 8-year period. The state of West Virginia sued the pharmacy chain, along with others, for failure to maintain “effective controls against diversion as a distributor and dispenser,” which the Attorney General claimed contributed to the oversupply of opioids in West Virginia.

Morrisey said in a press release that:

We will continue to seek out justice for those affected the most by the opioid epidemic that hit our state the hardest. This and other settlements will not bring back the lives lost from the opioid menace, but our hope is that the money would provide significant help to those affected the most by this crisis in West Virginia.

The Walgreens settlement agreement represents another victory for Morrisey, who, after suing Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Kroger, has secured settlements from all but Kroger. In a news conference to announce this latest settlement, Morrisey said “We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

In September 2022, Walmart agreed to settle with Morrisey for over $65 million and CVS settled for $82.5 million. Additionally, Rite Aid agreed to settle for $30 million in August 2022. Kroger, which has a large presence in West Virginia, is the last of the major pharmacies that remain a defendant in the litigation. The litigation against Kroger is scheduled for trial in June.

West Virginia alleges Kroger failed to report suspicious drug orders to the DEA and the West Virginia Board of Pharmacies, and failed to have any suspicious order systems in place to detect suspicious drug orders for a significant amount of the time period covered by the lawsuit.

The settlements from Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, and Rite Aid are to be paid out according to the West Virginia First Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which has recently been ratified by the courts of West Virginia. The MOU is an agreement between the state and the political subdivisions of West Virginia that deals with how the settlement monies will be allocated and disbursed. All 55 counties in West Virginia have signed on to the MOU, and 122 out of 129 cities and towns in West Virginia have also signed on.

Morrisey reports that around $957 million in settlements have been made with wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers related to the opioid crisis, but that some of that settlement money may be lost to companies filing for bankruptcy, as lawsuits and settlements from other states and DOJ pile up.

“So many lives have been lost and shattered by this menace,” Morrisey said. “We will continue to fight for those families and we will serve as the voices of the sons and daughters they have lost.”