SANTA FE, NM (AP) — New Mexico has settled with Walgreens for $500 million over the drugstore chain’s role in distributing highly addictive prescription pain relievers.
The agreement was signed in March and state officials confirmed that a confidentiality provision of the agreement was lifted on Friday.
The settlement adds to $274 million in settlements obtained in the case last fall from Albertsons, CVS, Kroger and Walmart. Attorneys representing the state say that, in total, opioid litigation in New Mexico has raised more than $1 billion.
They argued at trial last year that Walgreens failed to recognize suspicious prescriptions and refused to fill them.
“I am optimistic that this will help in the fight against the opioid crisis and provide the treatment that New Mexicans desperately need,” Luis Robles, one of the attorneys who worked on the case, told the Santa Fe New Mexican.
In recent years, drug manufacturers, distribution companies, pharmacies, and others with roles in the opioid business have reached settlements totaling more than $50 billion with local, state, and tribal governments.
In May, West Virginia announced its settlement with Kroger, bringing that state’s total opioid litigation dollars to more than $1 billion. The state of West Virginia has lost more lives to opioid overdoses per capita than any other.
Most of the money from the opioid litigation settlement is required to be used to fight the crisiswhich has been linked to more than 560,000 deaths in the US in the past two decades, including more than 70,000 a year recently.
In recent years, most deaths have been linked to fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids, not prescription pain relievers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.