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Nevada to receive $285 million from Walgreens; opioid settlements now top $1.1 billion

Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
CourtsState Government
Attorney General Aaron Ford and Chief Deputy Attorney General Mark Kreuger during a press conference about an opioid settlement outside the Attorney General’s office in Carson City on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent).

Nevada has reached a $285 million settlement with Walgreens over the company’s role in the opioid epidemic, bringing the state’s total recovery from drug companies and distributors to more than $1.1 billion, Attorney General Aaron Ford announced Wednesday.

The funds will be distributed over the next 15 years between the state government and local governments that are part of the One Nevada Agreement on Allocation of Opioid Recoveries. The state will retain more than $98 million, while the local governments will receive about $116 million, with other funds going toward litigation costs. 

This final settlement, the largest of the yearslong litigation, will require the state to use the funds to back evidence-based programs to help curb the epidemic that resulted in 497 overdose deaths in Nevada last year attributed to a synthetic opioid, such as fentanyl, according to the state’s Overdose Data to Action Program. 

“We've seen this epidemic devastate families and communities throughout the state,” Ford said at a press conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday. “These defendants have been held accountable.”

It’s the latest settlement for Walgreens, which in recent weeks has agreed to pay millions of dollars through settlement agreements to states including Texas, New Mexico and Michigan. Drug companies across the country have faced an onslaught of state-backed lawsuits alleging distributors ignored warnings that opioids were being sent to the black market and that manufacturers downplayed the risks of the drugs.

The second-largest settlement between Nevada and drug companies came from multistate litigation against the three largest opioid distributors — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — that will bring more than $231 million for the state over 18 years.

The state has reached settlements with Teva Pharmaceuticals ($193 million), CVS ($151.9 million), Johnson & Johnson ($53.5 million) and McKinsey and Company ($43 million). The state also was awarded $32.2 million from Walmart and $26.5 million from Allergan and its subsidiaries through multistate agreements.

Attorneys general across the country have in recent years sued opioid manufacturers and consultants. Ford, meanwhile, has taken part in some multistate suits but has also pursued litigation separate from other states. He defended that decision on Wednesday, stating that if the state had decided to participate in the multistate litigation effort against Walgreens, its return would have been about $62 million.

Any allocations of the state’s share of the funds will go through the Fund for a Resilient Nevada, which was established by SB390 during the 2021 legislative session. Lawmakers in January approved granting $4.1 million from that account, including a $700,000 award to UNR to expand its mobile Medication-Assisted Treatment teams. 

In accordance with that 2021 law, the Department of Health and Human Services in December released an assessment and plan to deal with the opioid crisis. The plan includes seven goals to address the epidemic, including actions to reduce the harms of opioid use, prevent the misuse of opioids and provide behavioral health treatment.


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