Health

Rhode Island’s Woonsocket would pay about $ 5 billion over 10 years under a deal that, if approved, will be one of the biggest settlements during the crisis.

CVS Pharmacy is on display in Mount Lebanon, Pa. On Monday May 3, 2021. AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar

CVS Health announced an agreement in principle that will make it the first major pharmacy chain to reach a nationwide settlement in lawsuits over how to handle prescriptions for prescription strong and addictive painkillers linked to the overdose epidemic.

Rhode Island’s Woonsocket would pay about $ 5 billion over 10 years under a deal that, if approved, will be one of the biggest settlements during the crisis. Other pharmacies, including Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Walmart, have reached agreements with individual states.

CVS announced a proposed deal on Wednesday as it released its quarterly earnings. The company has pleaded not guilty or misconduct and stated that non-financial issues remain to be resolved.

“We are delighted to be able to resolve these long standing claims, and it is in the best interests of all parties, as well as our customers, associates and shareholders, to bring them up for us,” said Thomas Moriarty, CVS chief policy officer and general counsel in a statement. “We are committed to working with states, municipalities and tribes and will continue our own important initiatives to help reduce the illegal use of prescription opioids.”

The company launched educational programs and installed safe drug disposal stations in shops and police departments, including aimed at reducing opioid abuse.

In lawsuits, governments said pharmacies were dispensing prescriptions that should have been flagged as inappropriate.

Under the settlement plan, CVS will pay $ 4.9 billion to state and local governments and an estimated $ 130 million to Native American tribes over the next decade. The exact amount will depend on how many government entities agree to the terms of the agreement.

The proposed settlement brings the nationwide total of finalized and completed settlements between companies and governments to over $ 45 billion. Under the terms of the contracts, most of the money must be used to fight the ongoing epidemic.

Opioids have been linked to more than 500,000 d*aths in the United States in the past two decades. Most of the d*aths initially involved prescription dr*gs. As governments, doctors and companies have taken steps to make it more difficult to abuse and obtain them, people with opioid use disorders have increasingly switched to h*roin, which has proven to be more lethal.

In recent years, the number of opiate-related d*aths has risen to record levels of around 80,000 per year. Most of these d*aths involve an illegally manufactured version of a powerful drug made in a laboratory fentanylwhich appears in the entire US supply of illegal dr*gs.

The settlement was announced in connection with the escalation of the court dispute over the role of pharmacies in the opioid crisis. On Tuesday, 18 companies – mostly pharmaceutical related – submitted reports to the judge overseeing the opioid lawsuit, detailing where they are dealing with lawsuits.

Only a handful of opioid bills included larger dollar amounts than the CVS plan. Distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson This year, it closed a $ 21 billion settlement, and drug maker Johnson & Johnson finalized a $ 5 billion deal.

Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, and members of the Sackler family who own the company have a proposal settlement that would entail $ 6 billion in cash plus goodwill to be transformed into a new entity whose profits would be used to combat the epidemic. This plan was suspended by the court.

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