FILE: Opioids

(The Center Square) – Indiana has agreed to a tentative multistate settlement with Walmart over allegations the giant retailer contributed to the opioid crisis by improperly overseeing its pharmacies. The agreement will secure $53 million in payments to the state, bringing Indiana’s total in opioid-related settlement payments to nearly $573 million. 

“The opioid crisis has devastated far too many Hoosier families,” Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a statement announcing the Walmart settlement. “We continue working aggressively to hold accountable those companies whose actions have contributed to the opioid epidemic. Further, we are committed to bringing much needed funding to fight the drug crisis in Indiana.”

The Nov. 15 agreement would settle nearly all outstanding lawsuits against Walmart brought by local, state or tribal entities regarding the opioid crisis and result in total payments of $3.1 billion by the retailer with no admission of wrongdoing. 

In addition to monetary payments, Walmart will agree to alter its dispensing practices, including educating pharmacists, reducing the number of opioids dispensed, preventing theft of opioids, increasing access to overdose reversal medication and educating patients on the dangers of opioid abuse. 

Opioid prescriptions peaked in Indiana in 2012, when 112 opioid prescriptions were written for every 100 Hoosiers. In 2021, 2,755 Hoosiers died from opioid overdose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. 

Indiana law specifies that money received by the state to settle opioid claims must be distributed as follows: 

  • · 15% to the state
  • · 15% to cities, counties and towns
  • · 35% for statewide treatment, education, and prevention programs
  • · 35% to cities, counties and towns for treatment, education and prevention program

Amounts distributed to cities, counties and towns will be determined by a formula measuring the impact of the opioid crisis on them. 

In 2021 Indiana entered into a multistate opioid claims settlement with multiple entities, including major pharmaceutical distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, which will result in payments of $507 million to the state over 10 years. 

Also in 2021, the state reached a multistate settlement with consulting firm McKinsey & Company over its role in promoting the sale of oxycontin, which will result in $12.6 million in payments to Indiana.