Walmart has agreed to a $3.1 billion nationwide opioid settlement framework in an attempt to resolve allegations that the company contributed to the nationwide opioid crisis by failing to regulate prescriptions at its stores.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who co-led a coalition of attorneys general in negotiating the settlement, said that the deal includes broad, court-ordered requirements Walmart must comply with, such as robust oversight to prevent fraudulent prescriptions and flag suspicious prescriptions.
According to James, New York state will receive up to $116 million as part of the settlement, bringing the total amount secured by her to combat the opioid crisis in New York to more than $2.1 billion.
James added that she and her colleagues are “optimistic” that the settlement will gain support of the required 43 states by the end of 2022, allowing local governments to join the deal during the first quarter of 2023.
Further details about how the money will be distributed among localities is forthcoming.
Last month, states confirmed that promising negotiations were also underway with Walgreens and CVS. Efforts to reach those agreements are ongoing.
“For decades, the opioid epidemic has ravaged communities here in New York and across the country,” said James in a statement. “Pharmacies such as Walmart played an undeniable role in perpetuating opioids’ destruction, and my fellow attorneys general and I are holding them accountable.”
In its own statement on Tuesday, Walmart said that it believes the settlement framework is in the “best interest of all parties” and will “provide significant aid” to communities across the country in the fight against the opioid crisis.
Walmart said it is adopting new practices including educating and empowering pharmacists; reducing the amount of opioids dispensed; protecting against diversion and theft; increasing access to overdose reversal medication; educating its patients and communities about opioid abuse; and advocating for state and national policies aimed at curbing opioid abuse and misuse.
“Walmart is proud of our pharmacists and our efforts to help fight the opioid crisis,” the company said. “Walmart strongly disputes the allegations in these matters, and this settlement framework does not include any admission of liability. Walmart will continue to vigorously defend the company against any lawsuit not resolved through this settlement framework.”