New Mexico and Walgreens reach $500 million opioid settlement

New York

New Mexico reached a $500 million settlement with Walgreens over the drug giant’s role in the opioid epidemic, lawyers for the state said Friday.

The plaintiffs claimed Walgreens “dispensed millions of potentially harmful opioids into communities across New Mexico” by failing to red flag prescriptions that were not needed for medical use, or by continuing to fill red flag prescriptions.

Last fall, the state received an additional $274 million in settlements from Albertsons, CVS, Kroger and Walmart, the lawyers said. The addition to the Walgreens settlement brings the total to $1 billion brought into the state through opioid lawsuits.

“No amount of money will bring back the life lost and destroyed due to the overprescribing of prescription opioids,” said New Mexico Attorney General Luis Robles. “With the Walgreens settlement and others, the state of New Mexico can step up its efforts to correct the ravages that the opioid crisis brought to our state.”

Walgreens must pay to help address opioid addiction in the state as part of the settlement agreement.

Nearly 75% of overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid, CDC data showed, and more than 564,000 people died from overdoses involving all opioids, including prescription and illegal opioids, from 1999-2020.

The agreement, which followed five years of litigation, was reached in March, but its confidentiality clause was lifted on Friday. Walgreens said it does not comment on the case.

“This settlement is an important step in our efforts to hold companies like Walgreens accountable for their egregious behavior,” co-lead counsel Dan Albertstone said in a statement.

In May, Walgreens and San Francisco reached a $230 million settlement over the opioid crisis. That same month, Kroger also said it would pay $68 million to settle a lawsuit in West Virginia that alleged the company contributed to the oversupply of opioids in the state.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the value of the settlement. It was $500 million.

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