(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania to receive a $120 million settlement from Walmart to fund opioid addiction-related treatment services.
The money, part of a $3 billion nationwide settlement, was announced earlier this week by the Attorney General of Pennsylvania. While Pennsylvania has reached an agreement with the company, the agreement will not be finalized until 43 states and local governments agree. Officials expect enough states and local governments to enroll in the first quarter of 2023 before the end of the year.
The money will “help fund treatment resources in affected communities,” the attorney general noted, and will urge Walmart to change how it handles and prescribes opioids.
“Too many families have lost loved ones to the opioid epidemic, and too many people have lost years of their lives to addiction,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who won the governor’s election last week. “My office is committed to holding accountable the companies that created and fueled this crisis. Companies like Walmart need to step up and help by making sure the people of Pennsylvania have the treatment and recovery resources they need.”
Opioid use has become deadlier in Pennsylvania as fentanyl dominates the market, like The Center Square previously reported. However, opioid overprescribing has not resulted in overdose deaths. Some experts argue that limiting prescriptions drove people to the black market, leading to more opioid-related deaths, like The Center Square previously reported.
Pennsylvania had more than 5,400 overdose deaths in 2021. However, preliminary data from the CDC shows a slight decrease in deaths over the last year to 5,100 deaths Experts are cautious an actual decline.
The settlement isn’t the first opioid-related cash inflow the Commonwealth has received. In September, Details have been finalized that Pennsylvania will receive $1 billion from pharmaceutical distributors Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen and opioid maker Johnson & Johnson.
The state formed the Pennsylvania Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust to distribute, monitor, and advise the state and counties on how the money should be spent. The majority, 70%, will go to the county governments; 15% goes to the General Assembly and 15% to other uses by counties, prosecutors, cities and special districts.
The Walmart agreement will also go to the Opioid Trust under the same formula.
“We anticipated this event and it would be our intention that the money from it be added to any other money the Trust receives and pays out accordingly,” said Tom VanKirk, chairman of the Opioid Trust and former chief legal officer for Highmark Health.
Previously, $40 million had been transferred from the Trust to county governments, and VanKirk expected about $80 million to be disbursed by the end of the year.
“We are very pleased that agreements continue to be reached,” said VanKirk. “The more we can account for, the more money we have to pay out.”
Another settlement is in the works CVS and Walgreens, which is estimated at approximately $10 billion nationally. As with the previous settlement, any money received from Pennsylvania will go into the trust and be distributed according to the established formula and local government rules.