Del. reaches $43.6M settlement with Walgreens, CVS amid opioid crisis
DELAWARE – The First State is being awarded $43.6 million in a settlement with Walgreens and CVS.
Under the agreement, CVS will pay a total of $5 billion, and Walgreens $5.7 billion, to states across America for their role in the opioid epidemic.
“This is a huge deal for Delaware. It is second only to the tobacco master settlement agreement decades ago, which brought in much needed money to the state of Delaware, and throughout the country to curb the harm done by the tobacco industry,” said Delaware Attorney General (AG) Kathleen Jennings. “While no money can take away grief, sorrow, and loss, we have to use this money in the best possible way to save lives.”
AG Jennings says the money will be used to remediate the opioid crisis in the First State. The settlement contains specific guardrails to ensure the money is spent properly, she says. Efforts will stretch up and down Delaware; as far north as Claymont, and as far south as Seaford, says AG Jennings.
“We will be making sure that it goes to the best possible purposes throughout the state, including in areas of the state where there are pockets of communities that have seen these harms hit more so than others,” said AG Jennings.
However, AG Jennings stresses that this settlement is more than just monetary. She vows there will be more accountability moving forward.
“The pharmacies that have settled have agreed, and they will be bound, to put monitors in place so that they’re tracking the number of opioids that they are selling to someone with prescriptions,” said AG Jennings.
“It all begins with greed”
The settlement comes as Delaware, and several other states across the nation, have been clamping down on the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the opioid crisis. AG Jennings say it starts with manufacturers, then the focus shifted to distributor companies. Now, pharmacies are in the hot seat.
“We have encompassed the supply chain from the beginning to the very end of this tragic several decades in our history,” said AG Jennings. “It all begins with the sale of opioids, and it all begins with greed being more important than peoples’ own lives. That has been a theme from the very beginning.”
In 2020, 447 Delawareans suffered fatal overdoses, with 515 more in 2021. AG Jennings says the First State is on track to break those records before the end of 2022. That threat is only exacerbated by the emergence of fentanyl, says AG Jennings.
“What we have seen explode in the last several years, is that fentanyl is an ingredient in so many of the controlled substances that people with substance use disorder are using. The deaths have exponentially risen,” said AG Jennings. “So, it’s really important that these dollars go to the purpose for which they’re intended; to save lives, and educate people about their health.”
Two more settlements with opioid manufacturers Teva and Allergan are in the pipeline, according to AG Jennings.