Drugstore group CVS agrees $5bn opioid settlement

US drugstore group CVS Health has agreed to pay about $5bn to settle all outstanding lawsuits over its prescription of powerful opioid painkillers.

It is the first settlement by a pharmacy chain linked to their role in the opioids crisis in the US, which has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths in the country in recent years.

Several other pharmacy chains, including Walmart and Walgreens, are also in settlement talks over the claims, which have been filed against them by US states and native American tribes.

Walmart and Walgreens declined to comment.

The company said on Wednesday, as it released third-quarter results, that it had agreed “in principle to a financial resolution designed to substantially resolve all opioid lawsuits”.

If all conditions are satisfied, the company will pay $4.9bn to states and $130mn to tribes over the next 10 years, it said. If the settlement is confirmed, CVS would be the first major pharmacy company to reach such a deal in the US.

“The agreement would fully resolve claims dating back a decade or more and is not an admission of any liability or wrongdoing,” the company said. “CVS Health will continue to defend against any litigation that the final agreement does not resolve.”

Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday that CVS, Walmart and Walgreens had reached a tentative $12bn opioid settlement deal.

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