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Paying Out

Walmart agrees to pay $3.1 billion for allegedly contributing to opioid crisis

Walmart has agreed to pay $3.1 billion to settle lawsuits from several U.S. states alleging the company contributed to the opioid epidemic, the company announced Tuesday. 

In a statement, the retail giant said it had agreed to the payment to resolve "all opioid lawsuits and potential lawsuits by state, local, and tribal governments." Walmart added that it would "provide significant aid to communities across the country in the fight against the opioid crisis, with aid reaching state and local governments faster than any other nationwide opioid settlement to date."

The lawsuits had originally been brought by a large tranche of states, including New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, and more, CNN reported. The coalition of attorneys general in these states claimed the actions of Walmart's pharmacies had been a direct factor in the nationwide opioid crisis. 

The lawsuits said Walmart, among other things, failed to properly regulate its pharmaceutical standards and prescriptions, CNN added. Walmart has denied these claims, saying in a statement that the company "disputes the allegations in these matters, and this settlement framework does not include any admission of liability."

This is not the only legal action facing Walmart, as a federal lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department in 2020 alleged the company had purposefully understaffed its pharmacies to boost profits, The Wall Street Journal reported. Walmart has sought to have this case dismissed. 

Beyond Walmart, competitors CVS and Walgreens recently agreed to a combined $10 billion settlement under similar circumstances.