Oakland, CA – California Attorney General Rob Bonta recently announced a $5.7 billion multistate settlement agreement in principle with the retail pharmacy chain Walgreens to address its role in fueling the opioid epidemic. The settlement will resolve allegations that the company failed to appropriately oversee the dispensing of opioids at its pharmacies and could bring more than $500 million in funds for California to fight the harms caused by the opioid epidemic.
The announcement comes on the heels of last month’s announcement of a proposed $3.1 billion settlement with Walmart to resolve similar claims.
“This settlement is another win in our ongoing fight to bring help and healing to California communities harmed by the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Bonta. “To all those struggling with substance abuse disorders, to all those desperately in need of treatment and recovery options — help is on the way. The California Department of Justice is working to bring valuable funding to our state’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis from the companies who once chose profits over the well-being of our communities.”
Funds from the settlement will be divided among participating states, local governments, and tribes. The vast majority of settlement funds must be used to combat the opioid crisis, including by providing treatment and recovery services to people struggling with opioid use disorder. California will be eligible to receive up to approximately $510 million in abatement.
The settlement will also have broad, court-ordered injunctive relief requirements to help prevent this type of crisis from happening again, including:
- The implementation of a Controlled Substance Compliance Program to ensure compliance with injunctive terms, to train employees, and to help prevent drug diversion;
- A requirement to investigate and resolve prescriptions with potentially suspicious “red flags” before dispensing the drug;
- Site visits and compliance reviews of individual pharmacy locations;
- An agreement to provide unblinded “867” sales data from the company’s distributor to drug manufacturers, which will help identify and prevent drug diversion.
An executive committee of attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Texas have served as the lead negotiators on this deal. The settlement has been endorsed by the executive committee, attorneys representing local governments, and Walgreens.
The terms of this agreement will now go to the states for their review. Each state will have until the end of 2022 to join. If sufficient states sign-on, the agreement will go to local governments around the country for sign-on during the first quarter of 2023.
California is assessing the terms of a similar settlement agreement with another retail pharmacy chain, CVS.
Source: CA AG’s Office