Seeger Weiss founding partner Chris Seeger along with partner Jennifer Scullion helped lead the National Prescription Opiate Litigation team in negotiations with Walgreens and CVS that culminated in over $10 billion in settlement agreements to help communities across the country ravaged by the opioid epidemic. In addition to Seeger and Scullion, negotiations were led by Paul Geller of Robbins Geller, Hunter Shkolnik of Napoli Shkolnik, Peter Mougey of Levin Papantonio Rafferty, Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser, and Joe Rice of Motley Rice.
On Wednesday, Walgreens and CVS officially announced their intent to settle many of the outstanding lawsuits over their involvement in the opioid epidemic. These agreements-in-principle will resolve many of the lawsuits across the country once the terms are finalized and affected communities agree to the resolutions. Walgreens plans to pay $5.7 billion over the next 15 years including $4.8 billion to state and local governments and almost $155 million to Native American tribes. CVS agreed to pay $4.9 billion to state and local governments, as well as $130 million to Native American tribes, over the course of 10 years.
“Cities and states nationwide have been burdened for years from the effects of the severe opioid addiction crisis, including high drug related death rates, dramatically increased drug abuse rates, economic decline and rising crime linked to the over and improper prescription methods of these pharmacies,” said Seeger. “These landmark agreements in the opioid litigation successfully hold pharmacies accountable and are an important step towards helping communities devastated by the opioid epidemic. The funds will provide communities the opportunity to build out programs to support those effected by the ongoing crisis including drug treatment programs, community support systems for families, and other essential resources. The abatement plan lays out specific ways in which funds can be used to ensure that the money goes directly towards fixing opioid related issues and not general governmental spending.”
In addition to monetary compensation, CVS and Walgreens will also make significant improvements to dispensing practices to help reduce addiction moving forward. This portion of the agreement is an essential piece to ensuring that the over-prescription of dangerous drugs is put to an end.
The following is a statement on behalf of the court-appointed leadership and negotiating team in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation MDL: Jayne Conroy of Simmons Hanly Conroy; Paul T. Farrell Jr. of Farrell & Fuller Law LLC; Joe Rice of Motley Rice LLC; Russell Budd of Baron & Budd, P.C.; Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP; Paul Geller of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP; Peter Mougey of Levin Papantonio Rafferty; Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP; Hunter Shkolnik of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC; and Steven Skikos of Skikos, Crawford, Skikos & Joseph LLP.
“These landmark agreements-in-principle reached with CVS and Walgreens on economic terms totaling more than $10 billion are an important step in our efforts to hold pharmacy defendants accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic that continues to devastate individual lives, as well as entire cities and states. Once effectuated, these agreements will be the first resolutions reached with pharmacy chains and will equip communities across the country with the much-needed tools to fight back against this epidemic and bring about tangible, positive change. In addition to payments totaling billions of dollars, these companies have committed to making significant improvements to their dispensing practices to help reduce addiction moving forward.
“Along with the attorney general working groups with whom we continue to tackle this crisis, we encourage all states, subdivisions, and Native American Tribes to join us once these agreements and allocation processes are finalized to expedite the process of providing these life-saving resources where they are needed most.
“While our efforts thus far have obtained approximately $25 billion for communities nationwide, our work is far from finished. Alongside community leaders, first responders, and others on the front lines of this crisis, we will continue to work to hold all those responsible for this epidemic fully accountable and obtain some measure of justice for its catastrophic effects.”
Additional background: Dependent on participation by states and municipalities, the agreement-in-principle with Walgreens totaling $5.7 billion will be paid out over 15 years after its effective date, and the agreement-in-principle with CVS totaling $5 billion will be paid out over 10 years after its effective date.