July 21, 2024

West Virginia begins sending out funds from opioid lawsuit

A bag of evidence containing the synthetic opioid fentanyl disguised as Oxycodone is shown during a Fresno County Sheriff’s Office press conference in 2020. California Republicans have been attacking Democrats over their alleged inaction on fentanyl policy. (Craig Kohlruss/Fresno Bee/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — The first payments from a fund established by a West Virginia opioid lawsuit settlement have been issued, according to multiple reports.

The state, which has the highest drug overdose death in the country, is receiving money from each of its settlement agreements on a staggered schedule, with annual payments coming until at least 2036.

A $68 million settlement was announced by the state in May with Kroger, the last remaining defendant in a lawsuit involving Walgreens, Walmart, CVS and Rite Aid. Walgreens settled for $83 million; Walmart for more than $65 million; CVS for $82.5 million; and Rite Aid for up to $30 million.

Back in 2020, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced that Aug. 31 would become Overdose Awareness Day.

In 2023, Justice announced the appointment of five people to the board of a private foundation that would end up distributing most of the state’s opioid lawsuit settlements.

Over the past four years, drug manufacturers, distribution companies, pharmacies and other companies have reached settlements totaling more than $50 billion with governments.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 82,998 opioid-involved drug overdose deaths in the United States, an increase from 82,310 in the previous year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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