Kroger will pay $68 million to resolve a lawsuit in West Virginia alleging the company contributed to the oversupply of opioids in the state and failed to maintain effective controls.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Thursday announced the settlement in a statement. Kroger was the last remaining defendant in a state lawsuit involving Walgreens, Walmart, CVS and Rite Aid.
The financial impact to Kroger will be minimal. The company booked $4.1 billion in profits last year.
The lawsuits allege the pharmacies’ contribution to the oversupply of prescription opioids in the state have caused “significant losses through their past and ongoing medical treatment costs.”
“Although the hundreds of millions of dollars we secured from these companies will not bring back the lives lost from the opioid menace, our hope is that the money would provide significant help to those affected the most by this crisis in the state,” Morrisey said in a statement.
More than 564,000 people died from overdoses involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids, from 1999-2020, according to the latest CDC data.
A spokesperson for Kroger said in a statement that “while we continue to believe that the allegations made against Kroger in this and other opioid lawsuits are without merit, we have decided that a settlement is the best path forward to resolve this litigation.”
Walgreens settled in January for $83 million, while Walmart and CVS settled with the state last September: Walmart agreed to a settlement of $65 million and CVS for $82.5 million. Last August, Rite Aid settled for up to $30 million.
State and local governments have filed thousands of lawsuits against drug companies and wholesalers accused of fueling the crisis, resulting in a plethora of settlement deals. The largest to date is a $26 billion settlement that began paying out last year.