The final defendant in a West Virginia opioid lawsuit, Kroger, has settled for over $60 million, according to an announcement from the West Virginia attorney general.
Kroger was one of several defendants – including CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Walmart – accused by the state of West Virginia of contributing to an oversupply of prescription opioids that made up the foundation of the opioid crisis. This oversupply led to addiction, injury, death, and financial loss.
The attorney general was set to go to trial against Kroger on June 5th when the corporation chose to settle. In a statement from the company provided to The Inter-Mountain, Kroger says that “we continue to believe that the allegations made against Kroger in this and other opioid lawsuits are without merit.” The company goes on to explain that they settled because they saw it as the best way to resolve the litigation.
The total amount of settlement funds for the state will be in excess of $1 billion. This includes an $82 million settlement with CVS, a $30 million settlement with Rite Aid, an $83 million settlement with Walgreens, and a $65 million settlement with Walmart. Kroger will pay a total of $68 million over seven years with an immediate payment of $34 million.
Funds from the settlement will be distributed according to the West Virginia First Memorandum of Understanding. An emphasis is placed on the use of funds for education, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation, with 72.5% going to a private foundation, 24.5% going directly to cities and counties, and the remaining 3% going into a trust.
In their statement, Kroger defended their role in diverting the opioid crisis, stating that its efforts include “support of national legislation for electronic prescribing of controlled substances,” and “almost two million doses of Narcan and buprenorphine.” This, the company argues, demonstrates its status as a “productive partner” in the communities of West Virginia.