The giant pharmacy chain Walgreens has reached a settlement with the State of New Mexico over Walgreens’ share of responsibility for the epidemic of opioid addiction. The agreement, announced June 10, 2023, stipulates that Walgreens will pay the state $500 million. The agreement comes after five years of litigation over the highly addictive prescription painkillers.
Appropriately, New Mexico was the setting of the classic AMC television series “Breaking Bad,” about an amiable high school chemistry teacher who becomes a street-level drug kingpin.
There is clearly a lot of responsibility to go around. Litigation has drawn money out of the pockets of manufacturers, distributors and trade associations as well as the pharmacies. Pharmacy chains that have been cited as defendants in such litigation, in addition to Walgreens, include Walmarts, RiteAid, Giant Eagle, and CVS.
Overdose deaths surged during the Covid-19 pandemic. They were more than 50% higher in 2021 than they had been in 2019.
Common types of prescription opioid include oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin) morphine, and methadone.
In Pill Form:
New Mexico attorney Luis Robles said in a statement. “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 declined to comment on the settlement.