Nov. 2 (UPI) — CVS Health, owners of one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country, said on Wednesday it has agreed in principle to resolve opioid lawsuits against it around the country totaling $5 billion.
The drugstore giant said it will pay $4.9 billion to states and political subdivisions and approximately $130 million to tribes over the next 10 years beginning in 2023, depending on the number of governmental entities that agree to join the settlement.
CVS said the agreement would fully resolve claims dating back a decade or more and that it would continue to defend against any litigation that the final agreement does not resolve.
“We are pleased to resolve these longstanding claims and putting them behind us is in the best interest of all parties, as well as our customers, colleagues and shareholders,” said Thomas Moriarty, chief policy officer and general counsel of CVS Health in a statement.
“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 part of the agreement, CVS said it would make investments in technology and procedures to support its pharmacists, improve policies, procedures and controls relating to the dispensing of controlled substances and start educational programs on prescription drug misuse for teens and parents.
It said it would also roll out 4,750 safe medication disposal units in stores and local police departments to recover unused medication, install time delay safes to help deter opioid robberies and increase nationwide access to opioid overdose reversal medication.
In August, a federal judge in Ohio had ordered Walmart, Walgreens and CVS to pay $650 million to two counties near Cleveland over their roles in distributing opioid painkillers.
In that case, prosecutors in Lake and Trumbull counties said that Walgreen Boots Alliance, CVS and Walmart failed to ensure that prescriptions they received for painkillers like fentanyl and OxyContin were valid between 1999 and 2019.