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CVS settles with Florida on opioids, first accord with US state

(AFP)

CVS Health will pay $484 million to the state of Florida to settle opioid claims, the parties announced Wednesday, in the pharmacy chain’s first settlement with a US state.

The agreement, under which most of the funds will go to treat health effects or drug misuse, follows other large agreements involving drug manufacturers and distributors.

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Myriad players throughout the US pharmaceutical and medical supply chain have been accused of helping to propagate a health crisis that has led to more than 500,000 overdose deaths in the United States over the past 20 years.

“The opioid epidemic is wreaking havoc on Florida families,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. “Since my first day in office, I have worked tirelessly to hold accountable those companies who helped start this crisis.”

Besides CVS, Moody announced three smaller settlements with drugmakers Teva ($195 million), Allergan ($134 million) and Endo ($65 million).

Payments from the four companies to Florida total $878 million, according to the sums listed in Moody’s press release.

Pharmacy chains such as CVS, Walgreen’s and Walmart, continue to face multiple lawsuits, having not yet settled the vast majority of cases.

CVS said the agreement means it will no longer be a defendant in a Florida opioid lawsuit scheduled for trial next month.

“Putting these claims behind us is in the best interest of all parties and helps sharpen our focus on delivering a personalized, connected health care experience for the millions of consumers who rely on us,” said General Counsel Thomas Moriarty of CVS.

The agreement does not include any admission of wrongdoing by CVS.

CVS, along with Walgreens, Rite Aid and Walmart, agreed last summer to a $26 million settlement with two counties in New York state.

An Ohio jury in November sided with two of the state’s counties that sued Walmart, Walgreens and CVS, determining the three companies acted illegally in filling significant opioid prescriptions, creating an “oversupply” of the drugs and a “public nuisance.”

The companies have signaled plans to appeal the Ohio judgement.

A CVS spokesman said the chain will “continue to vigorously defend against other lawsuits related to opioids” in an email to AFP.

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