CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WV News) — West Virginia has reached settlements with Walmart and CVS Pharmacy over the stores’ role in the opioid crisis, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Tuesday.
The settlements are expected to “add up to a minimum of $147.5 million,” Morrisey said during a press conference.
“This is, once again, putting West Virginia in a position to be first in the nation in terms of per capita opioid settlements,” he said. “There has been a very consistent strategy to make sure West Virginia is No. 1 in the nation so we can fix these terrible problems that have been afflicting our state for far too long.”
Walmart agreed to a settlement of $65.07 million, while CVS agreed to an $82.5 million settlement, according to a press release issued by the Attorney General’s Office following the announcement.
The CVS deal comes with a 2.25% Most Favored Nation protection — a guarantee that West Virginia won’t be prejudiced by a future national settlement.
At the press conference, Morrisey detailed other opioid settlements his office has secured, as well as other ongoing litigation related to the opioid crisis.
To date, the state has secured in excess of $296 million from opioid manufacturers, $400 million from pharmaceutical wholesalers and nearly $180 million from pharmacies, Morrisey said.
“Total amount secured thus far ... $874 million,” he said.
The state’s case against the Walgreen Company, the company that owns and operates Walgreens pharmacy locations, is set to go to trial next June, Morrisey said.
“We believe we have a very strong case against Walgreens,” he said. “We’re going to be pursuing that quite vigorously. We know that some of the (opioid) distribution amounts to different parts of the state, the numbers are very, very high, and there’s going to need to be a lot of explanations from them in this trial as to what they did.”
His office also recently filed suit against Kroger, Morrisey said.
“I’ve been very disappointed that Kroger did not cooperate with us in the way that we thought it should throughout the last couple years,” he said. “So we’ve brought up litigation against them, and that’s set for trial in June of 2023.”
He anticipates the state’s total opioid settlements eventually totaling more than $1 billion, Morrisey said.
“I think we’re very likely to be over a billion dollars before all is said and done,” he said.
Morrisey announced the $400 million settlement with drug distributors AmerisourceBergen Drug Co., Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corp. on Aug. 1, saying more than 100 West Virginia cities and counties would see a share of the funds.
The $400 million will be paid out over 12 years, according to Paul Farrell, co-lead attorney in the case.
“This settlement is an acknowledgment of the downstream devastation caused by the wholesale distribution of a billion opium pills throughout West Virginia,” he said. “The settlement terms also require the monies be used to abate the opioid public health epidemic which is further proof that we can impact and drive down opioid abuse and addiction with much-needed resources.”
The settlement does not include Huntington or Cabell County, which were the first in the country to take the distributors to trial but received an adverse judgment in a bench trial, Farrell said.
“The exclusion of Huntington and Cabell County is particularly painful because this community is the epicenter of the opioid epidemic and started the national litigation,” he said.