SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has settled with Walgreens for $500 million over the pharmacy chain’s role in distributing highly addictive prescription painkillers.
The agreement was signed in March, and state officials confirmed that a confidentiality provision on the agreement was lifted Friday.
The settlement is in addition to $274 million in settlements obtained in the case last fall from Albertsons, CVS, Kroger and Walmart. Attorneys representing the state say that, in all, New Mexico’s opioid litigation has brought in more than $1 billion.
They argued at trial last year that Walgreens failed to recognize suspicious prescriptions and refuse to fill them.
“I’m optimistic this will help in the fight against the opioid crisis and provide the treatment New Mexicans so desperately need,” Luis Robles, one of the attorneys who worked on the case, told the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Over the past few years, drug manufacturers, distribution companies, pharmacies and other companies with roles in the opioid business have reached settlements totaling more than $50 billion with local, state and tribal governments.
In May, West Virginia announced its settlement with Kroger, bringing that state’s total opioid litigation dollars to more than $1 billion. West Virginia state has lost more lives to opioid overdoses per capita than any other.
Most of the settlement money from the opioid litigation is required to be used to fight the crisis, which has been linked to more than 560,000 deaths in the U.S. over the past two decades, including more than 70,000 a year recently.
In recent years, most of the deaths have been connected to fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids, not prescription painkillers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.