LINCOLN — Nebraska has given its OK to a $3 billion settlement with Walmart in a lawsuit alleging that the company contributed to the opioid addiction crisis by failing to properly oversee the dispensing of the highly addictive painkillers.
The settlement, if ratified by 43 states by the end of the year, would provide more than $11 million to Nebraska’s Opioid Recovery Fund. That fund, administered by the State Department of Health and Human Services, must be used for opioid disorder-related treatment and prevention.
In a press release on Tuesday, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said that settlement negotiations are also well underway with Walgreens and CVS but that Walmart has been the most proactive in trying to monitor and prevent abuse of opioid prescriptions.
Peterson said he hopes the opioid settlement funds can help support strong opioid addiction treatment programs and “significantly reduce opioid use disorder in Nebraska.”
In 2020, 214 Nebraskans died of opioid abuse, according to the national Centers for Disease Control. Nebraska’s death rate of 11.3 per 100,000 people was second-lowest in the nation that year, with only South Dakota (at 10.3 per 100,000) having a lower death rate.
The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office was one of 16 states that served as lead negotiators with Walmart. The AG’s office expressed optimism that the settlement will gain support of the required 43 states.
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