By Dietrich Knuth
(Reuters) – State Attorney Patrick Morrissey said Tuesday that CVS Health Corp and Walmart (NYSE): have agreed to pay $147.5 million to settle West Virginia’s claims over their alleged role in the state’s opioid crisis.
CVS agreed to pay $82.5 million and Walmart agreed to pay nearly $65 million, according to the state.
West Virginia was ready to launch a trial on September 26 against the two companies, as well as the Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:).
The state has accused drugstore chains of fueling the deadly opioid epidemic through its allegedly lax oversight of prescription pills sold in the state.
Walgreens was not settled, and the trial was rescheduled for June 2023.
“We think we have a very strong case against Walgreens,” Morrissey said at a news conference. “We will pursue it vigorously.”
Kroger (NYSE:) will also be a defendant in the rescheduled trial for June 2023.
West Virginia has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the per capita opioid death rate more than triple the national average in 2020, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
CVS said it will continue to defend itself in other opioid-related lawsuits, but believes that “putting these allegations behind us” was the right decision in the West Virginia case.
“Our position remains that prescriptions for opioid drugs are written by physicians, not pharmacists, and that opioid drugs are manufactured and marketed by manufacturers, not pharmacies,” CVS spokesman Michael Diangelis said.
Walmart and Walgreens did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
More than 3,300 lawsuits were filed against drug companies, distributors and pharmacies during the crisis.
The lawsuit has increasingly targeted drugstore chains in recent months, after drug makers and distributors reached major nationwide settlements, including a $26 billion deal with the three leading drug distributors and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: NYSE:), to address their liabilities.
Walgreens has resisted settlements in other opioid cases brought by state and local governments this year. He was the last defendant to settle a lawsuit over Florida’s opioid allegations, and he was the only defendant to be tried over San Francisco’s opioid allegations.
Walgreens has been found responsible for fueling opioid addiction in San Francisco, and how much to pay will be determined in a future trial.
Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart were found responsible for contributing to the opioid crisis in two Ohio counties, and were ordered to pay $650 million in the case.