“The Walmart settlement provides the fastest and most truncated stream of abatement fees to communities of any of the pharmacy settlements,” said Paul Geller, a lawyer for the local governments, “which is particularly noteworthy considering that Walmart’s opioid dispensing was less than the other large pharmacy chains in both number and strength of pills.”
Like earlier settlement agreements, the Walmart deal must be approved by a large majority of state and local governments to take full effect. Josh Stein, the attorney general of North Carolina, said that the Walmart agreement was on track for approval by 43 states by the end of this year, opening the door for local governments to sign on by the first quarter of 2023.
The Opioid Crisis
From powerful pharmaceuticals to illegally made synthetics, opioids are fueling a deadly drug crisis in America.
In a statement, the company said, “Walmart believes the settlement framework is in the best interest of all parties and will provide significant aid to communities across the country in the fight against the opioid crisis, with aid reaching state and local governments faster than any other nationwide opioid settlement to date.”
But the statement also said the company still “strongly disputes the allegations” against it in the lawsuits. “This settlement framework does not include any admission of liability,” the statement said.
William Tong, the attorney general of Connecticut, noted that the Walmart agreement includes court-ordered requirements to tightly monitor prescriptions, as a stopgap against so-called pill-mill doctors as well as to prevent patients from seeking multiple prescriptions for opioids.
Similar safety guard measures have been introduced in opioid settlement deals with companies across the pharmaceutical industry, including manufacturers and distributors, in an effort to slow down the widespread abuse.
Mr. Stein, the North Carolina attorney general, said, “This deal with Walmart adds to the important progress we’ve already achieved through our settlements with the opioid manufacturers and distributors — and we’re not done yet.”
Plaintiffs’ lawyers said that some earlier agreements had yet to be finalized and deals were also being sought with smaller pharmacy chains and drug manufacturers.