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Morrisey announces settlement of up to $30M against opioid distributor Rite Aid

·2 min read

Aug. 12—MORGANTOWN — State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced on Thursday a settlement with Rite Aid for up to $30 million in the opioid suit filed in June 2020.

The suit alleged Rite Aid, in its role as a distributor, supplied more opioids to its pharmacies than was necessary to meet legitimate patient needs ; and the pharmacies ordered more from other distributors. In doing so, it failed to maintain effective controls against diversion and contributed to oversupply of opioids in the state.

"So many lives have been lost and shattered by this scourge, " Morrisey said. "With this settlement and other settlements, we will provide significant help to those affected the most by the opioid crisis in our state."

The suit was filed in Putnam County Circuit Court at the same time as one against Walgreens. Rite Aid and Walgreens are corporately linked. Rite Aid sold its 1, 651 stores to Walgreens Boot Alliance during 2017-18, including 104 stores in West Virginia.

From 2006-14, Rite Aid distributed an estimated equivalent of more than 87 million, 10-milligram oxycodone pills, while its retail pharmacies ordered another 127.5 million pills from other distributors to fulfill demand, the suit said.

It alleged that Rite Aid's contribution to the oversupply of prescription opioids in the state caused "significant losses through their past and ongoing medical treatment costs, including for minors born addicted to opioids, rehabilitation costs, naloxone costs, medical examiner expenses, self-funded state insurance costs and other forms of losses to address opioid-related afflictions and loss of lives."

Morrisey said, "Money will not bring back the lives lost from this epidemic, but we are looking for accountability."

The money from all opioid settlements will be distributed under the terms of the West Virginia First Memorandum of Understanding. Announced in mid-February, the MOU is an agreement with cities and counties on how future settlement dollars would be used to abate the opioid crisis throughout the state. It contains a comprehensive plan to use those funds to abate the problems caused by the flood of opioids into West Virginia, Morrisey said.

While the Rite Aid case has been settled, litigation against the remaining pharmacy defendants — Walgreens, Walmart and CVS — continues in the Mass Litigation Panel with a trial date in September. The Walmart and CVS suits were filed in August 2020.

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp EMAIL dbeard @dominionpost.com