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Who's to blame for the opioid crisis?
05:55 - Source: CNN
New York CNN  — 

New Mexico reached a $500 million settlement agreement with Walgreens over the pharmaceutical giant’s role in the opioid epidemic, lawyers for the state said Friday.

The plaintiffs argued Walgreens “dispensed millions of potentially harmful opioids into communities across New Mexico” by failing to red-flag prescriptions that weren’t needed for medical use, or by continuing to fill red-flag prescriptions.

Last fall, the state obtained another $274 million in settlements from Albertsons, CVS, Kroger, and Walmart, the lawyers said. The addition of the Walgreens settlement brings the total to $1 billion brought into the state through opioid litigation.

“No amount of money will bring back the lives lost and ruined because of the over-prescription of prescription opioids,” New Mexico attorney Luis Robles said. “With the Walgreens settlement and others, the State of New Mexico can ramp up its efforts to redress the ravages which the opioids crisis brought to our state.”

Walgreens has to pay to help remedy the opioid addiction in the state as part of the settlement agreement.

Nearly 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid, CDC data showed, and more than 564,000 people died from overdoses involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids, from 1999-2020.

The agreement, which followed five years of litigation, was reached in March but its confidentiality provision was lifted Friday. Walgreens said it is not commenting on the matter.

“This settlement is a major step in our effort to hold companies like Walgreens accountable for their egregious conduct,” co-lead counsel Dan Albertstone said in a statement.

In May, Walgreens and San Francisco reached a $230 million settlement over the opioid crisis. The same month, Kroger also said it would pay $68 million to resolve a lawsuit in West Virginia alleging the company contributed to the oversupply of opioids in the state.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the value of the settlement. It was $500 million.