Walgreens to pay $683m to settle claims it exacerbated opioid crisis in Florida | Opioids crisis
Pharmacy giant Walgreens said on Thursday it has reached a $683m settlement with Florida to resolve claims that the chain exacerbated an opioid epidemic in the state.
The settlement includes $620m to be paid to Florida over 18 years, plus $63m for legal fees. Florida is the first state to settle its opioid claims against major pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS, collecting more than $1.1bn from the two companies.
The settlement ends a trial that began on April 11, after Walgreens decided not to join a combined $878m settlement with four other healthcare companies, including CVS. Walgreens did not admit to wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
Before settling, Walgreens had argued it should be immune from being south based on a $3,000 settlement it reached with Florida in 2012.
Florida had called Walgreens’ position “absurd”, according to court transcripts, saying the 2012 settlement addressed only a single record-keeping violation.
Judge Kimberly Sharpe Byrd of Pasco county court agreed with Florida, and the trial began while Walgreens appealed her ruling.
“I am glad that we have been able to end this monumental litigation and move past the courtroom,” Florida’s attorney general, Ashley Moody, said on Thursday during a press conference.
The nationwide opioid crisis has led to more than 500,000 overdose deaths in the last two decades, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 3,300 lawsuits have been filed against drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies over the crisis, including claims they played down the risks of addiction and overdoses, and were lax in monitoring where pills ended up.
Florida has recovered more than $3.6bn in opioid litigation against drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies, according to Moody. It will spend most of the money in efforts to mitigate the opioid crisis in the state.
CVS previously agreed to settle with Florida for $484m, while Teva, Abbvie Allergan and Endo International agreed to pay a respective $194.8m, $134.2m and $65m. All denied wrongdoing.