Due to their involvement in the US opioid crisis, two of the largest pharmacies in the country have agreed to pay more than $10 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits.
The proposed agreements with CVS and Walgreens are the most recent development in a protracted court battle in which companies have been accused of encouraging the overuse of dangerous opioids.
More than $30 billion has already been collected through settlements with drug manufacturers and distributors.
Pharmacy claims of misbehaviour are untrue.
However, they recently lost some prominent, lesser court cases, with a judge ordering the two companies and Walmart to pay more than $650 million (£567 million) to two Ohio counties
According to BBC Business News, CVS chief executive Karen Lynch said on a call with analysts that the settlement was in the “best interests of all parties and helps put a decades-old issue behind us”.
Local governments, Native American tribes and others behind the total of more than 3,000 lawsuits will now decide whether or not to accept the settlement. It would allow them to funnel money to help them address the local costs of a crisis that the US says has claimed more than 560,000 lives since 1999.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs that helped negotiate the deal called the proposal an “important step” to holding the pharmacies “accountable”.
“Once effectuated, these agreements will be the first resolutions reached with pharmacy chains and will equip communities across the country with the much-needed tools to fight back against this epidemic and bring about tangible, positive change,” the legal team said in a statement.
It’s reported that, since former US President Donald Trump declared the opioids epidemic a national emergency in 2017, the situation has worsened.
Overdoses involving opioids jumped 30% in 2020 and another 15% last year, with illegally manufactured fentanyl driving the recent crisis, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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