More opioid settlement money for Virginia, cities, and counties? CVS Health and Walgreens in negotiations

Watchful Eye
Courtesy of William Cho

There’s bright outlook for Virginia getting another batch of opioid settlement funds and piping a share to cities and counties.

On November 2, CVS Health announced it reached an “agreement in principle” to pay out nearly $5 billion. That money is “to substantially resolve all opioid lawsuits and claims against the company by states, political subdivisions, such as counties and cities, and tribes in the United States.”

Walgreens also announced an agreement in principle for a settlement of nearly $5 billion. The announcement came the same day and cited the same reasoning.

A breakdown of the money

Walgreens refers to its settlement money as “remediation payments.” If the agreement is finalized, those remediation payments will include up to approximately $4.79 billion for states and about $154.5 million for tribes. The money will be paid out over 15 years.

CVS Health said its settlement will include about $4.9 billion to states and political subdivisions and approximately $130 million to tribes, depending on the number of governmental entities that agree to join. The company’s payments are expected to start in 2023, and it’ll have 10 years to complete the payout.

“The timing of cash settlement payments, spread over multiple years, allows the company to continue to invest in its strategic priorities,” the CVS Health statement explains.

Where the deals stand

CVS Health’s settlement is hinged on whether “ all conditions are satisfied and the non-monetary terms – which still need to be determined – are finalized."

Until Walgreens deems “certain injunctive terms” satisfactory, its agreement won’t go into effect. Those terms are also still being negotiated.

Furthermore, Walgreens said its settlement is contingent on at least two other things. First, a sufficient number of the settling states need to sign on to the framework that’s outlined. Second, a sufficient number of states, including those that don’t haven’t already sued, need to agree to sign on or otherwise have their claims foreclosed.

Walgreens said it “cannot predict if or when either settlement framework will be finalized.”

Piping opioid money through Virginia

This year, Virginia has been raking in opioid settlement money from other cases and splitting it with local governments.

Last month, the Commonwealth announced it got a $67.4 million cut from a Johnson & Johnson settlement. Nearly $40 million was shaved off the top for Virginia’s Opioid Abatement Authority, the independent body that’s responsible for the Opioid Abatement Fund. That fund is supposed to be used for grants, donations, and other forms of assistance to address the opioid epidemic.

The state took $11.3 million and divided the remaining $16.3 up between counties and cities.

Likewise, Virginia received the first installment of $15 million from a $26 billion national settlement with three opioid distributors: McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health, as the Watchful Eye previously reported, and a share of that money was divided between 133 cities and counties across the state.

As of last month, Virginia had received over $108 million from the Johnson & Johnson and distributors’ settlements and is slated to receive a total of early $533 million from the two, according to a statement from Attorney General Jason Miyares.

Now, there are two more potential contributors to the pot of opioid funds.

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