Kroger Reaches Opioid Claim Settlement With West Virginia

Grocer will pay $68M, but says lawsuit is without merit
Emily Crowe
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Kroger is the final company to reach a settlement with the state of West Virginia over its alleged involvement in the opioid epidemic.

The Kroger Co. will pay $68 million to the state of West Virginia as part of a settlement over claims that the grocer helped fuel the opioid epidemic through lack of proper oversight. The state further alleged that Kroger did not properly report suspicious pharmacy orders for opioids to state officials or the Drug Enforcement Agency.

This marks the final settlement made by companies sued by the state of West Virginia, and came one month before the case was set to go to trial. According to Reuters, a Kroger spokesperson said that the company believes the lawsuit is without merit, but the settlement was the "best path forward to resolve this litigation."

[Read more: "U.S. Sues Rite Aid Over Opioid Prescription Misuse"]

In January, West Virginia reached a settlement for $83 million for similar claims against Walgreens. The state will spend the funds fighting the opioid epidemic, according to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, with 72.5% going to a newly created foundation, and a majority of the rest being earmarked for local governments.

Myriad other opioid-related case decisions and settlements have been reached over the past year between state and federal governments, and grocers and drugstores. CVS and Walgreens paid approximately $5 billion each to settle thousands of lawsuits over their actions throughout the opioid epidemic.

More specifically, a federal judge ordered CVS, Walgreens and Walmart to pay $650 million to two Ohio counties, to help defray ongoing costs relating to the opioid crisis. The companies had settled earlier in cases brought in Florida and West Virginia, and by two New York counties.

Cincinnati-based Kroger has almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens is No. 5 on the list, Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health is No. 7, and Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100.

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