Colorado to receive millions for Walmart opioid crisis settlement

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Colorado is expected to get more than $40 million from a national legal settlement with Walmart over the superstore chain’s involvement in the opioid crisis, Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Nov. 15.

The settlement, which is worth $3.1 billion total to be distributed to state, local and tribal governments across the U.S., will resolve lawsuits alleging Walmart stores contributed to widespread opioid addiction and misuse by inappropriately distributing the drugs, said a press release from Weiser’s office. The company continues to dispute that its pharmacists acted improperly, and said in its own statement that “this settlement framework does not include any admission of liability.”

Distribution of Colorado’s $40 million share will follow the state’s established distribution framework for settlements related to the opioid crisis, which gives 60 percent of funds to regions (El Paso and Teller counties are one region), 20 percent to local governments, 10 percent to the state and 10 percent to infrastructure needs, according to Weiser’s office. The funds — which with the Walmart settlement will total more than $560 million statewide — are intended to be used for opioid addiction treatment, recovery and prevention.
The Walmart settlement also includes measures to improve how its pharmacies handle opioids, such as “robust oversight to prevent fraudulent prescriptions and flag suspicious prescriptions,” the AG’s release said. Walmart’s own statement said the company has reduced the number of opioids it distributes and increased access to overdose reversal meds.

Forty-three states must sign onto the settlement, then local governments can sign on; officials are confident this will happen by the end of 2022, the AG’s release said. “Promising negotiations” are also underway with national pharmacies Walgreens and CVS regarding their opioid crisis-related lawsuits, the release said.

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