Additional $10.7 billion in opioid settlements could bolster Louisville Metro’s efforts to address substance use disorder

November 18, 2022

Two of the largest pharmacies, CVS and Walgreens, have agreed in principle to settle national lawsuits for their role in creating and fueling the country’s opioid epidemic, which could aid Louisville in its efforts to address the effects of substance use disorder.


“These landmark agreements-in-principle reached with CVS and Walgreens on economic terms totaling more than $10 billion are an important step in our efforts to hold pharmacy defendants accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic that continues to devastate individual lives, as well as entire cities and states,” said the court-appointed negotiating team in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation in a statement. The national negotiating team includes Louisville Metro’s outside counsel Peter Mougey of Florida-based firm Levin Papantonio Rafferty.


Dependent on participation by states and municipalities, the agreement-in-principle with Walgreens totaling $5.7 billion will be paid out over 15 years after its effective date. The agreement-in-principle with CVS totaling $5 billion will be paid out over 10 years after its effective date.


Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell will advise the present and incoming administration of Louisville Metro to sign onto the settlements with CVS and Walgreens, as he did with the landmark $26 billion settlement with distributors finalized earlier this year.


“These settlements represent the latest step in our work to hold major corporations accountable for their roles in fueling the devastation brought by the opioid crisis,” O’Connell said.


In August 2017, O’Connell advised Louisville Metro to be one of the first major cities to file lawsuits in what became a national, multidistrict litigation to hold drug companies and distributors responsible. Johnson & Johnson and nation’s three largest opioid distributors-Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson-finalized a collective $26 billion national settlement in February. Those defendants will pay out their settlements over a period of as much as 18 years.


Kentucky received $483 million from those settlements, with local governments and the state each receiving 50 percent. Louisville Metro’s portion from the local government share of the initial settlements is estimated to total $31.8 million during the 18 years.


The Jefferson County Attorney’s Office briefed Louisville Metro Council’s Public Safety committee Wednesday, sharing that it hopes to receive Louisville Metro’s first two settlement payments, totaling approximately $3.5 million, in 2023.

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