CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The State of West Virginia has reached settlements totaling more than $147.5 million with Walmart and CVS in opioid lawsuits, according to the WV attorney general’s office.
According to the lawsuits, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey alleged that CVS and Walmart’s pharmacies “failed to maintain effective controls as a distributor and dispenser against diversion” which he says contributed to an oversupply of opioids in the Mountain State.
“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.”
Morrisey says prior to the settlement, the two companies were supposed to be included in a trial involving four companies on Sept. 26 that had recently been pushed back to June 2023. According to Morrisey’s office, the state’s Mass Litigation panel will hear the trial for the remaining companies involved, Walgreens and Kroger, on June 5, 2023.
According to Morrisey, Walmart agreed to a settlement of $65,070,000 and CVS agreed to a settlement of $82.5 million. The attorney general’s office also says part of CVS’s settlement included a 2.25% “Most Favored Nation protection,” which serves as a guarantee that West Virginia will not be prejudiced by a future national settlement.
The state has sued an number of drug makers, distributors and pharmacy chains claiming the “flooded West Virginia” with opioids, leading to the state having the nation’s highest number of opioid deaths in the nation. In total, the Mountain State has settled lawsuits with drug companies and pharmacies for a total of $874 million dollars.
“this has ravaged our state unlike anything else,” Morrisey said. “We can’t bring back those lives, but we can have accountability. And we can make sure that West Virginia has more strength in the accountability side than any other state in the nation.”
Morrisey’s office says the money from the settlements will be distributed under the terms in the West Virginia First Memorandum of Understanding, which created an agreement with the state on how to use future settlement dollars to combat the West Virginia’s opioid crisis. The money used from these settlements is to be used toward drug prevention, education, law enforcement and treatment.