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CVS and Walgreens to pay $10.7 billion over alleged opioid prescription breaches

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CVS and Walgreens have agreed to pay $10.7 billion to settle allegations that they failed to adequately monitor opioid painkiller prescriptions, contributing to America’s opioid addiction crisis.

The funds will be distributed to states, local governments and federally recognized tribes and will go towards programs to reduce and remediate the opioid crisis. CVS will pay $4.9 billion to states and political subdivisions and about $130 million to tribes. Walgreens will pay $4.95 billion, plus more than $750 million in attorneys’ fees and costs. Payments will be made over time.

Pharmacy chains have also agreed to implement robust controlled substance compliance programs that will require additional levels of opioid prescription review and institute new mandatory training programs.

Between 2011 and 2020, the overdose death rate for all opioids tripled, from 7.3 deaths per 100,000 people to 21.4 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the nonprofit State Health Access Data Assistance Center. . Even as declines in prescriptions like oxycontin have leveled off, deaths from heroin, which is illegal, and fentanyl, a commonly prescribed painkiller, have increased, the group said.

“When people simply cannot stop their use, as with addiction, they often turn to substitutes,” writes Colin Planalp, a researcher at the center. “Along with opioids, this has unfortunately forced many people to seek out substances such as heroin on the illicit market, where purity and potency are unreliable, making them even riskier than prescription opioids. And once drug dealers embraced the powerful opioid fentanyl, it invaded the illegal drug trade and became entangled in non-opioid substances, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.”

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul led the settlement effort.

“The opioid epidemic has tragically affected too many Illinois families who have experienced addiction or even the death of a loved one,” he said in a statement. “This $10.7 billion settlement with Walgreens and CVS builds on the significant progress we’ve already made with previous settlements, but more importantly, it holds both companies accountable.”

As part of the settlement, neither company admitted to wrongdoing.

“We are pleased to resolve these long-standing claims and putting them behind us is in the best interests of all parties, as well as our customers, colleagues and shareholders,” said Thomas Moriarty, CVS’s director of policy and general counsel. Health. Release. “We are committed to working with states, municipalities and tribes, and will continue our own important initiatives to help reduce the illegitimate use of prescription opioids.”

“As one of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains, we remain committed to being part of the solution, and this settlement framework will allow us to continue to focus on the health and well-being of our customers and patients, while making positive contributions to addressing the opioid crisis,” Walgreens said in a statement.

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