Nevada and pharmacy chain CVS have reached a nearly $152 million settlement to be paid over the next decade to end a lawsuit over opioid claims, state Attorney General Aaron Ford announced Tuesday.
“CVS negotiated in good faith,” Ford said at a news conference in Carson City. “Their work with the state of Nevada ... will help our state tackle the opioid problem.”
According to an Associated Press analysis, the settlement is one of the 10 largest between a single state and a single company over opioid claims. It also puts the total money Nevada expects to receive from opioid litigation settlements since 2020 at $606 million, according to Ford’s office. It marks the largest sum the state has brought in opioid-related litigation by itself.
CVS was one of a number of companies that the state sued in the case filed in June 2019. A lawsuit against one company — Teva Pharmaceuticals — remains to be settled, and Ford said the state is preparing to go to trial in August.
Drugmakers, pharmacies, wholesalers and other companies have agreed to settlements of lawsuits over the opioid crisis nationwide totaling more than $50 billion. Much of the money is to be used to deal with an overdose crisis that is linked to more than 100,000 deaths a year in the U.S.
Some states have seen more from their share of multi-state or nationwide settlements. Last year, CVS agreed to pay state and local governments nearly $5 billion to settle lawsuits over the toll of opioids. But Nevada did not join in that litigation in order to pursue the single-state settlement, Ford spokesperson John Sadler said.
Nevada joined another multi-state settlement with three of the nation’s largest opioid manufacturers in April 2022 totaling $232 million over nearly two decades.
Ford said about $80 million of the CVS settlement will go to a coalition of Nevada county and city governments, and the state will retain nearly $70 million. A panel of experts will make recommendations for using the money to mitigate the opioid epidemic, he said.
CVS also agreed to develop an oversight program with a list of prescriptions, patients and prescriber “red flags” to help stop the misuse of opioids.
A CVS spokesperson, Kara Page, said in a statement that the company was pleased with the pact with Nevada. The statement noted that opioid prescriptions are written by doctors, not pharmacists. It did not elaborate on the oversight program.
With the state Legislature in session, Ford is backing one of two companion bills with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro to enhance fentanyl trafficking penalties, starting trafficking charges at four grams of possession of the synthetic opioid. Several states across the country are taking similar steps.
Associated Press writer Geoff Mulvihill contributed reporting in Washington, D.C. Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.