Updated Nov 15, 2022 - Economy & Business

Walmart reaches $3.1 billion deal to settle opioid lawsuits

Walmart logo is seen near the shop in Streator, Ill.

Walmart logo is seen near the shop in Streator, Ill. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Walmart announced on Tuesday that it had reached a $3.1 billion settlement framework to resolve all lawsuits lodged against it by local, state and tribal governments over the sale of powerful opioids at its pharmacies.

Why it matters: The deal makes Walmart the latest retail giant to cut such an agreement. Earlier this month CVS Health and Walgreens, the two largest drugstore chains in the U.S., agreed to pay about $5 billion each to settle opioid-related lawsuits.

The big picture: These deals are not yet final. Walmart's settlement was negotiated with a group of state attorneys general and has to be approved by 43 states, a process that hasn't yet started, AP reported.

  • The CVS and Walgreens deals also need to be approved by a "critical mass" of local and state governments, per AP.
  • In its statement, Walmart emphasized that it "strongly disputes the allegations" against it and that the settlement framework "does not include any admission of liability."
  • The settlement framework comes just a week after Walmart filed a lawsuit against dozens of its insurance carriers for refusing to cover its litigation costs in the opioid-related lawsuits.
  • The company hopes that a ruling would establish that the insurers are "obligated to cover Walmart’s defense costs, settlements, judgments, and/or other losses and expenses in connection with the Opioid Lawsuits," per the lawsuit.

What they're saying: "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, subject to satisfying all settlement requirements," the company said in a statement.

  • "Walmart is proud of our pharmacists and our efforts to help fight the opioid crisis," it added.
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