Walgreens has become the latest defendant to settle with West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey over claims related to multiple pharmacies’ roles in exacerbating the opioid crisis. During a Jan. 18 press conference, AG Morrisey announced that he had signed an $83 million settlement agreement with Walgreens, leaving Kroger as the sole remaining defendant to not settle.
AF Morrisey’s lawsuit is one of many that have been filed against pharmacies for allegedly failing to maintain effective controls as distributors and dispensers of opioids. These lawsuits allege that the failure to control the distribution of opioids led to an oversupply that intensified the opioid epidemic in West Virginia.
AG Morrisey’s lawsuit initially targeted CVS, Kroger, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Walmart. According to Law360, CVS settled for $82.5 million, Rite Aid for $30 million, and Walmart for $65 million in 2022. Kroger, the sole remaining defendant, is scheduled to go to trial in June.
In the press conference, AG Morrissey said, “Let me say that the allegations we have made against Kroger are quite serious. Kroger, the only entity now to not settle with the state of West Virginia, we’ve alleged that they failed to report any suspicious orders to the DEA and the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy.”
AG Morrissey added that Kroger allegedly did not have any suspicious order monitoring policy for “a significant amount of the time period covered” and that he will pursue the case as a part of seriously enforcing the laws of West Virginia.
Also mentioned in the press conference was the AG’s decision to reject any national settlement agreements. The AG stated that rejecting the agreement was part of a strategy intended to secure more money for West Virginians. According to the AG’s office, there was “some risk involved in that,” but by the AG’s office’s accounting, they have brought in $950 million from opioid litigation. AG Morrisey commented on the sum, stating, “We’ve doubled up the amount that we would have obtained through the National settlements.”