Advance Notice: Briefs

Nessel announces $3.1 billion settlement with Walmart over opioid epidemic allegations

By: - November 16, 2022 9:12 am

Customers come and go from a Walmart in Landover Hills, Md. | Danielle E. Gaines, Maryland Matters

A settlement has been reached between Walmart and the states resolving allegations that the company’s failure to appropriately oversee the dispensing of opioids at its stores contributed to the opioid addiction crisis.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the deal Tuesday, saying it will provide more than $3 billion nationally while also requiring significant improvements in how Walmart’s pharmacies handle opioids. 

“Since their introduction in the marketplace, opioids have had a devastating impact on our country and our state,” Nessel said. “Walmart’s lax dispensing of prescription opioids has resulted in thousands of Michigan families being touched by substance use disorder or the death of a loved one due to opioid use. This settlement will provide needed funds for intervention and treatment, as well as hold Walmart accountable for the lack of oversight at its pharmacies.” 

The settlement, which was agreed to by state attorneys general on the executive committee, attorneys representing local governments, and Walmart, is now being sent to other states for review and approval. 

Terms of the deal include:

  • $3.1 billion to be divided by states that sign on, local governments, and tribes, which must be used to provide treatment and recovery services to people struggling with opioid use disorder. 
  • Broad, court-ordered requirements, including robust oversight to prevent fraudulent prescriptions and flag suspicious prescriptions. 

According to a release from Nessel’s office, the parties are “optimistic” that the settlement will gain support of the required 43 states by the end of 2022, allowing local governments to join the deal during the first quarter of 2023. 

Meanwhile, efforts remain underway to reach a similar agreement with Walgreens and CVS. 

Attorneys general from North Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas have served as the lead negotiators on this deal.  

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.