Texas AG Paxton settles opioid lawsuit against CVS, Walgreens for $604 million, as Washington state morgues fill

Texas AG Paxton settles opioid lawsuit against CVS, Walgreens for $604 million, as Washington state morgues fill

Image: Law enforcement personnel stand outside at a home in Tucson, Ariz., on Thursday, January 19, 2023. U.S. agents in southern Arizona said Thursday they seized up to 440 pounds (about 200 kilograms) of what they suspect is a precursor chemical often used to manufacture the dangerous drug fentanyl, a chilling sign that producers may be moving to manufacture the deadly synthetic opioid on American soil. (Tim Steller/Arizona Daily Star via AP).

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Austin, January 25– TexasAttorney General Paxton announced that Texas is joining finalized opioid agreements with CVS and Walgreens totaling $10.7 billion nationally, with CVS paying $5 billion and Walgreens paying $5.7 billion. Texas and its local governments are slated to receive over $304 million from CVS and $340 million from Walgreens. This agreement brings the total amount of settlement funds from attorneys general investigations and litigation against the pharmaceutical industry for its role in the opioid crisis to more than $50 billion.

“Every single day, Americans from all backgrounds are suffering from opioid addiction and its destructive consequences,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The tragic and infuriating reality is that this epidemic has not happened by accident. There are companies that have played a role in worsening, and in many cases causing, opioid addiction. They must be held responsible, and CVS and Walgreens are no exception.”

In addition to the financial settlement, CVS and Walgreens will comply with court-ordered injunctive relief that requires the pharmacies to monitor, report, and share data about suspicious activity related to opioid prescriptions.

Now that Texas and other states have joined these settlements, the settlement deal will enter the second phase before CVS and Walgreens begin making payments. Local governments will be given the option to join the settlement, and if there is sufficient sign-on from states and local governments around the country, the payments will start during the second half of 2023.

CVS’s payments will be spread over 10 years, and Walgreens’ payments will be spread over 15 years. As with the other opioid settlements, nearly all of the settlement funds from CVS and Walgreens must be used to remediate the opioid crisis, including prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services.

This agreement is one of several opioid settlements that Attorney General Paxton has negotiated for Texas. Attorney General Paxton has secured over $2.9 billion for Texas from those companies that have worsened this crisis, including Walgreens, CVS, Allergan, Walmart, Mallinckrodt, Teva, Endo, Johnson & Johnson, and McKinsey.

Sad problem for Seattle

Seattle, Washington’s morgue is running out of room for bodies, which are piling up from fatal fentanyl overdoses. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid.

Space issues have become so acute at the Seattle-King County morgue in Washington state that local officials are considering keeping bodies on gurneys and partnering with local funeral homes for storage.

“A key indication of just how bad things are … the medical examiner’s office is now struggling with the issue of storing bodies because the fentanyl-related death toll continues to climb,” Seattle-King County Public Health Director Dr. Faisal Khan said at a Board of Health meeting last week in Seattle.

“Obviously, they have finite space in the coolers they use, and that space is now being exceeded on a regular basis,” Khan said.

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