INDIANAPOLIS — CVS and Walgreens have agreed to pay state and local governments a combined total of more than $10 billion to settle lawsuits over the toll of opioids and now want to know by Dec. 31 whether states are accepting the deals.
States announced final details Monday of settlements that the two largest pharmacy chains in the U.S. offered last month.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita announced that finalized tentative agreements with CVS and Walgreens call for Indiana to receive $219 million. The state is expected to get $105 million from CVS and $114 million from Walgreens.
The deals are among the largest in a wave of proposed and finalized settlements over opioids in recent years totaling more than $50 billion. Another big pharmacy operator, Walmart, also agreed to a settlement last month for $3.1 billion, with Indiana in line to get $59.4 million from that settlement.
“The opioid crisis has inflicted unspeakable pain on so many Hoosier families,” Rokita said in written comments. “Far too often, pharmacies have contributed to this devastation through their own reckless business practices, and we’re going to keep holding them accountable.”
Although lawyers involved in the cases are in line for a cut of the payments, most of the money is to be used to fight an overdose epidemic that has only deepened in recent years.
Opioids have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. in the past two decades, with the most casualties in recent years. The drugs responsible for the bulk of the deaths have shifted from prescription painkillers to illicitly produced fentanyl, which is often being mixed into other street drugs.
In the 2010s, state and local governments filed thousands of lawsuits seeking to hold the drug industry accountable for the crisis. Key drugmakers and distribution companies have already agreed to settlements.
Now, pharmacies, which were subject to claims that they should have realized they were filling too many opioid prescriptions, are following suit.
Under the separate deals, states have until the end of the year to agree to drop claims over opioids against Walgreens and CVS to receive the maximum payouts.
If there aren’t enough states participating, the companies can back out.
For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Republic.