CVS and Walgreens Will Pay $10 Billion For Their Role in the Opioid Crisis, the Largest Pharmacy Settlement Yet

CVS Pharmacy

CVS and Walgreens, the two largest pharmacy chains in the United States, will pay $10 billion to settle lawsuits over their role in the country’s opioid crisis, NPR reports.

Widespread overprescribing and easy availability of powerful opioids kicked off the first phase of the opioid crisis in the 1990s. 

The impact continues to reverberate today, with over 100,000 overdose deaths in 2021 alone, now primarily driven by illegally manufactured fentanyl. “More than half a million deaths in the U.S. over the past 20 years have been linked to opioid overdoses,” NPR notes.

CVS and Walgreens are accused of "ignor[ing] red flags, and [failing] to prevent opioids from flowing into communities." 

This settlement is not an admission of guilt on the pharmacies’ part. It’s expected to be one of the final big payouts after years of opioid litigation directed at manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies. 

Each entity involved in this particular litigation — whether it’s a state, local, or Native American government — can now decide if they’ll accept their share of settlement funds, or if they’ll continue to pursue additional claims.

Funds and are meant to go toward effective addiction services — but that’s not guaranteed. 

Though the settlement funds are supposed to support treatment and recovery initiatives, NPR reports that there’s “pretty wide latitude” when it comes to how exactly the money can be spent.

This is a huge opportunity that cannot be wasted. Too many lives depend on it.

That’s why Shatterproof, in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, is leading a national coalition to enact guiding principles for opioid settlement dollars at the state level. We’re working with states to enact legislation that creates a dedicated fund and a reporting mechanism, implements state-wide advisory boards, and ensures the dollars are spent on evidence-based programs for substance use disorder.

Add your voice now and let your local representatives know that addiction settlement funds must be spent wisely!