By Amy Simonson and Steve Almasy, CNN
The state of West Virginia has reached settlements with Walmart and CVS totaling more than $147 million to resolve opioid lawsuits, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Tuesday in a news conference.
CVS agreed to a settlement of more than $82.5 million and Walmart agreed to pay more than $65 million to settle the civil complaints “that alleged the pharmacies failed to maintain effective controls as a distributor against diversion that contributed to the oversupply of opioids in the state,” the attorney general’s office said in a news release.
CVS said that while it is no longer a defendant in the West Virginia lawsuit, it will continue to defend against other opioid claims.
“Putting these claims (in West Virginia) behind us is in the best interest of all parties,” CVS said. “Our position remains that opioid prescriptions are written by doctors, not pharmacists, and that opioid medications are made and marketed by manufacturers, not pharmacies.”
CNN reached out to Walmart but has not heard back.
Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, were involved in more than two-thirds of overdose deaths in the year ending March 2022. Deaths involving synthetic opioids increased by a staggering 80% over the past two years, CDC data shows.
“I’ve been very clear for a long while, there has been a very conscious strategy to make sure that West Virginia is number one in the nation — that we could fix these terrible problems that have been afflicting our state for far too long,” said Morrisey, a Republican.
Previously, West Virginia had agreed to a $30 million settlement with Rite Aid.
The attorney general said the money from the agreements will be targeted for the people most in need.
About $874 million has been secured so far from opioid settlements, money that will be distributed in accordance with the West Virginia Memorandum of Understanding, an agreement between the attorney general’s office and counties and municipalities.
“While we can’t take back the loss of lives and all the pain and the lost generations, we can make sure that there is accountability for a lot of the companies that did play a role in this process,” Morrisey said.
Walmart and CVS were part of litigation that still involves Walgreens and Kroger. A trial is scheduled to begin in June.
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CNN’s Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.