Kroger, one of the largest grocery chains in the US, has agreed to pay $1.4 billion over 11 years to settle lawsuits related to the opioid crisis, according to the Associated Press.
The settlement includes $1.2 billion for state and local governments, $36 million for Native American tribes, and $177 million for legal fees. Kroger, which operates stores in 35 states, plans to make the settlement money available to 33 states. This comes after the company previously settled with New Mexico and West Virginia. The settlement money will primarily be used to address the overdose epidemic that has caused over 80,000 deaths in recent years, with most deaths now linked to illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl.
The companies involved in the settlement have also agreed to change their business practices for prescription painkillers, including marketing restrictions and using data to identify overprescribing.
“This $1.2 billion agreement-in-principle is another step forward in holding each company that played a role in the opioid epidemic accountable and ensuring hard-hit communities are provided with much-needed resources,”
the lead lawyers representing cities and counties in the litigation – Jayne Conroy, Paul Farrell, and Joe Rice said in a statement on Friday.
Kroger aims to finalize the deal in time for initial payments in December. The company maintains its commitment to patient safety and denies any wrongdoing, according to its settlement.
Although many major players have settled, litigation surrounding the opioid crisis continues, with lawsuits being prepared for trial against supermarket chains Publix and Albertsons, as well as pharmacy benefit managers like Express Scripts and OptumRx.
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