Florida reaches $878 million opioid settlements with CVS, Teva, others

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(Reuters) -Florida has reached more than $878 million in settlements with CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS) and three drug companies to resolve claims and avert a trial next month over their roles in fueling an opioid epidemic in the third most populous U.S. state.

CVS will pay $484 million, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NYSE:TEVA) Ltd will pay $194.8 million, Abbvie Inc’s Allergan (NYSE:AGN) unit will pay $134.2 million and Endo International (NASDAQ:ENDP) Plc will pay $65 million, Florida’s attorney general Ashley Moody said in a statement on Wednesday.

Most of the money will be spent on opioid abatement. Teva will also provide $84 million of its generic Narcan nasal spray, which can temporarily reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.

All of the companies denied wrongdoing in agreeing to settle. Endo’s accord had been reached in January.

Moody said the pharmacy chain Walgreens is the only remaining defendant in the state’s opioid litigation, with jury selection scheduled to begin on April 5.

Walgreens in a statement said its 2012 opioid-related settlement with Florida covered the state’s latest claims, and that it will defend against “unjustified attacks” on its pharmacists.

CVS and Teva said they would defend against other lawsuits relating to opioids. Teva also said it “continues to actively negotiate a national settlement” of similar claims.

Abbvie and Endo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Florida announced the settlements nine days after Rhode Island reached similar accords with Teva and Allergan that it valued at $107 million.

More than 500,000 people have died from opioid overdoses in the past two decades, including 75,673 in the year ending April 2021, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Feb. 25, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and drug distributors AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC) Corp, Cardinal Health Inc (NYSE:CAH) and McKesson Corp (NYSE:MCK) reached final settlements worth $26 billion over their roles in the epidemic.

State, local and Native American tribal governments in the United States have filed more than 3,300 lawsuits accusing drugmakers such as OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma of fueling opioid abuse, including by downplaying the risks of addiction.