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CVS Settles Alaska Opioid Role for $10M

CVS Settles Alaska Opioid Role for $10M

CVS Settles Alaska Opioid Role for $10M

Introduction

CVS has settled with Alaska over its role in the state's opioid crisis, agreeing to pay $10 million over 10 years without admitting wrongdoing.

Alaska has reached a settlement with CVS regarding the company's involvement in the state's opioid crisis. CVS agreed to settle the complaint without admitting wrongdoing. Upon finalization, the state will receive $10 million over a span of 10 years.

The complaint alleges that CVS failed to adequately verify the legitimacy of opioid prescriptions during the peak of the prescription crisis. According to the state's press release, from 2010 to 2017, there were enough opioid prescriptions filled in Alaska to provide every resident with over 400 pills.

The Attorney General stated that pharmacies should have recognized issues with these numbers, indicating an excessive influx of opioids into the Alaskan market. During the initial wave of the crisis, many prescriptions were diverted to the black market, leading to illegal distribution. Pharmacies like CVS serve as a vital line of defense against such activities. However, the complaint suggests that CVS lacked sufficient systems to identify red flags, such as individuals filling opioid prescriptions from multiple doctors or obtaining prescriptions from out-of-state. Moreover, it alleges that CVS did not provide its pharmacists with adequate time and resources to investigate these red flags.

The complaint highlights the devastating impact of diverted opioids on Alaska, which has led to widespread havoc. Opioid prescriptions quadrupled nationwide between 1999 and 2014, contributing to Alaska's current heroin and fentanyl crisis. Last year alone, 220 Alaskans died from opioid overdoses.

In addition to CVS, the state has reached settlements with other opioid manufacturers and distributors, including Johnson & Johnson, Walmart, and Walgreens. These settlements are expected to bring nearly $100 million to Alaska over the next 15 years, designated for opioid addiction treatment and prevention. However, this amount pales in comparison to the overall cost of the opioid epidemic.

A recent report by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority estimated that the opioid crisis cost the state approximately $400 million in just one year. This figure encompasses health expenses and hidden costs such as lost productivity but does not capture the full extent of the crisis's non-economic toll.

To determine the best utilization of funds from the settlements, the governor appointed an advisory council in 2021. The council recommended directing the funds towards programs focused on addiction prevention, harm reduction, and supporting recovery efforts.

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