© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk by a CVS pharmacy store in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
By Jonathan Stempel and Dietrich Knauth
(Reuters) – Florida has reached more than $878 million in settlements with CVS Health Corp (NYSE:) and three drug companies to resolve claims and avert a trial next month over their roles in fueling an opioid epidemic in the third most populous U.S. state.
CVS will pay $484 million, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NYSE:) Ltd will pay $194.8 million, Abbvie Inc’s Allergan (NYSE:) unit will pay $134.2 million and Endo International (NASDAQ:) Plc will pay $65 million, Florida’s attorney general Ashley Moody said in a statement on Wednesday.
Most of the money will be spent on opioid abatement. Teva will also provide $84 million of its generic Narcan nasal spray, which can temporarily reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.
The four companies denied wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. Endo’s accord had been reached in January.
West Virginia reached a similar $26 million settlement with Endo on Wednesday, attorney general Patrick Morissey said in a press conference.
After the settlements, Florida and West Virginia will both begin pared-back opioid trials next week. West Virginia will proceed to trial on April 4 against Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:), Teva and Allergen. Florida will proceed to trial against pharmacy chain Walgreens, with jury selection scheduled to begin on April 5.
Walgreens said its 2012 opioid-related settlement with Florida covered the state’s latest claims, and that it will defend against “unjustified attacks” on its pharmacists.
CVS and Teva said they would defend against other opioid lawsuits, and Teva said it is “actively” negotiating a national settlement of similar claims. Allergan said its settlement also covers claims for generic opioids it sold to Teva in 2016.
Endo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Florida announced the settlements nine days after Rhode Island reached similar accords with Teva and Allergan valued at $107 million.
More than 500,000 people have died from opioid overdoses in the past two decades nationally, including 75,673 in the year ending April 2021, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Feb. 25, Johnson & Johnson and drug distributors AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:) Corp, Cardinal Health Inc (NYSE:) and McKesson Corp (NYSE:) reached final settlements worth $26 billion over their roles in the nationwide epidemic.
State, local and Native American tribal governments in the United States have filed more than 3,300 lawsuits accusing drugmakers such as OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma of fueling opioid abuse, including by downplaying the risks of addiction.
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