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December 13, 2022

Maine could get $66M from multi-state opioid settlement

Gavel on top of a book File photo Merton Weed Jr. is accused of listing false payroll information and number of employees to get funds through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Maine could recover more than $66 million from multi-state settlement agreements with three pharmacy chains over their role in the nation's opioid crisis, according to Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey. 
An estimated 70,630 people in the United States died of a drug overdose in 2019. 

Under the agreements, CVS will pay $5 billion and Walgreens will pay $5.7 billion, which come on top of a $2.7 billion settlement with Walmart. 

“Our communities have suffered tremendously,” Frey said in Monday's announcement. “These pharmacies must be held to account for their role, along with opioid manufacturers and distributors, in the devastation opioids have caused in Maine and across the country. While no amount of money can ever remedy the pain experienced by so many, I’m hopeful that a settlement could mean more funds for critical treatment, prevention and recovery efforts that can make a meaningful difference in lives across the state.”   

In addition to the financial settlement, the three pharmacy retailers have agreed to court-ordered injunctive relief that requires the companies to monitor, report and share data about suspicious activity related to opioid prescriptions. The court-ordered injunctive relief aims to prevent a repeat of the crisis.

Each state, including Maine, will have until the end of 2022 to join the three final agreements, which will then be vetted by local governments for their approval during the first quarter of 2023.

If all the agreements go ahead, Maine is in line to receive most of its estimated $14 million maximum payment from Walmart during the first year, while CVS's payments will be spread over 10 years and Walgreens' payments will be spread over 15 years, according to Monday's announcement.

If there is sufficient sign-on by states and local governments, payments will begin during the second half of 2023.

The national negotiations have been led by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas. 

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