Kroger will pay $1.2 billion to settle opioid lawsuits
Kroger has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle claims over its influence over the opioid epidemic due to inadequate oversight of its pill sales.
The company will pay the US states, local governments, and Native American tribes.
This settlement comes following similar nationwide agreements by retail pharmacy chains, including Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart.
Kroger said this settlement doesn’t imply an admission of wrongdoing or liability on its part.
It’s intended to facilitate the “full resolution” of claims from the mentioned parties.
It said: “Kroger will continue to vigorously defend against any other claims and lawsuits relating to opioids that the final agreement does not resolve.”
The settlement involves $1.2 billion to US states and local governments over 11 years and $36 million allocated to Native American tribes.
However, it has led to Kroger posting a net loss for the second quarter, primarily due to a $1.4 billion charge associated with the settlements and related legal fees.
In recent years, state and local governments filed numerous lawsuits against drug companies and wholesalers.
Those allege their role in contributing to the oversupply of prescription drugs, ultimately fueling the opioid epidemic.
These legal actions have resulted in various settlement agreements.
The opioid epidemic has had devastating consequences.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 564,000 people succumbed to opioid-related overdoses between 1999 and 2020.
It includes both prescription and illicit opioids.
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Although most of these fatalities initially involved prescription opioids, there have been efforts to restrict their misuse and availability.
Unfortunately, many people with opioid use disorder turned to more dangerous substances like heroin, leading to even higher mortality rates.
Walgreens and CVS reached settlements of $4.95 billion and $5 billion, respectively, to address opioid-related lawsuits.
Walmart also finalized a $3.1 billion nationwide settlement agreement.
Rite Aid has not yet reached a nationwide settlement but agreed to pay $30 million to West Virginia.
The company is reportedly considering bankruptcy to restructure its debt and potentially halt ongoing opioid-related lawsuits.