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Walmart agrees to pay $3.1 billion to resolve opioid lawsuits

Nov. 15, 2022 Updated Tue., Nov. 15, 2022 at 8:04 p.m.

The Walmart logo is shown on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in June 2018.  (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg )
The Walmart logo is shown on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in June 2018. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg )
By Jacob Bogage </p><p>and Meryl Kornfield Washington Post

Walmart has agreed to pay $3.1 billion to resolve opioid lawsuits brought on by more than a dozen state attorneys general, officials announced Tuesday.

This comes after Walgreens and CVS agreed to pay a combined $10 billion in similar settlements earlier this month.

Seventeen states, along with cities and Native American tribes, had accused Walmart of dispensing the pain pills with little regard for red flags that allowed opioids to be siphoned onto the black market.

The retailers say they followed the law and blamed doctors for overprescribing the medication. Company officials offered no admission of wrongdoing under the terms of their settlements.

“Too many families have lost loved ones to the opioid epidemic, and too many people have lost years of their lives to addiction,” Pennsylvania Attorney General and Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro said in a statement.

“My office is determined to hold accountable the companies that created and fueled this crisis. Companies like Walmart need to step up and help by ensuring Pennsylvanians get the treatment and recovery resources they need.”

Walmart in a statement said it was “proud of our pharmacists and our efforts to help fight the opioid crisis,” and said it “strongly disputed” allegations of wrongdoing.

Funds from the settlement will go to state, local and Indigenous governments to be used for opioid addiction treatment, recovery and abatement, officials said.

The settlement also includes court-ordered remedial measures for Walmart, including “robust oversight to prevent fraudulent prescriptions and flag suspicious prescriptions.”

Native American tribes who join the Walmart deal will receive as much as $89 million, said tribal attorney Lloyd Miller.

“With that, and if you take account of all the settlements so far the tribal recoveries will be approaching $1.5 billion,” he said, “which is starting to be a meaningful amount in terms of the ability of tribes to do significant remediation.”

Tribes have not received money from any of the opioid settlements yet, Miller said.

Meanwhile, Native Americans are disproportionately dying from drug overdoses, according to federal data.

Shapiro and New York Attorney General Letitia James led the complaint, which also included attorneys general from North Carolina, Nebraska, Ohio, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas.

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