• David Larson / Carolina Journal

AG Josh Stein announces $3.1 billion Walmart opioid settlement


On Tuesday, Democrat N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein announced that Walmart agreed to settle with North Carolina and other states regarding their part in the country’s ongoing opioid crisis. The settlement requires Walmart to pay $3.1 billion to the states in the agreement. North Carolina will split the settlement with 42 other states. According to Stein’s release, CVS and Walgreens may announce similar settlement agreements soon.


“Too many families have lost loved ones to the opioid epidemic, and too many people have lost years of their lives to addiction,” said Stein. “My fellow attorneys general and I are holding accountable the companies that created and fueled this crisis. As a result of our efforts, working alongside lawyers representing cities and counties, Walmart is committing to pay $3.1 billion and to improve the way it does business.”


Walmart has admitted fault in how they oversaw the distribution of opioids at their pharmacies and has pledged to change their policies as part of the settlement.


The details of how the money will be distributed and spent are not yet decided, but Stein said it would be focused on treating those affected by the opioid crisis.


“These meaningful resources will help people suffering from opioid addiction get the treatment and recovery services they need, and the changes to the way pharmacies operate will ensure that this never happens again,” Stein said in the release. “This deal with Walmart adds to the important progress we’ve already achieved through our settlements with the opioid manufacturers and distributors – and we’re not done yet.”


The NCDOJ statement said they are confident that the final details of the deal will be solidified before the end of the year. Lead negotiators on the deal were attorneys general from North Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Texas.


An earlier settlement with pharmaceutical companies has already begun to pay out $750 million in North Carolina alone. The money, which is meant to be focused on drug treatment and prevention, is largely being spent on “harm reduction” strategies, like medication-assisted treatment (MAT), housing-first, and needle exchanges that critics say enable addiction. Many West Coast cities focused on these strategies, like San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, have seen an explosion in public drug use and overdose deaths.


Traditional abstinence-based programs that focus on completely eliminating the addiction through long-term in-patient treatment have told Carolina Journal they are having difficulty getting funding from the settlement.

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