Pharma

Kroger to pay states $1+ billion under proposed opioid agreement

It’s the latest multistate agreement struck to settle allegations that a company helped fuel the opioid epidemic.
article cover

Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.

Kroger is expected to pay to states and local governments more than $1 billion to settle allegations that the Cincinnati-based supermarket and pharmacy chain helped fuel the nation’s opioid epidemic by failing to properly monitor painkiller orders.

Under the proposed settlement, which the company and state attorneys general announced on September 8, Kroger agreed to pay up to $1.2 billion over 11 years to states and subdivisions, as well as $36 million to Native American groups to support opioid abatement efforts. The supermarket chain also agreed to pay $177 million to cover attorney fees and other costs over a six-year period.

Attorneys general from California, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia led the negotiations.

The agreement, which is contingent on “critical business practice changes,” marks the latest multistate settlement struck in response to allegations that a company contributed to rising rates of opioid addictions and overdoses. Those settlement agreements total more than $51 billion to date.

Kroger’s payments, once finalized, could begin as early as December. States, local governments, and Native nations will be able to opt-in to participate in the settlement. The agreement is applicable to the 30+ states in which Kroger operates—either under its name or a subsidiary, including brands like Harris Teeter, Frey Meyer, and Smith’s Food and Drug.

The grocery store chain previously settled opioid claims with West Virginia and New Mexico.

Kroger executives noted that the company “will have full discretion to determine whether there is sufficient participation for the settlement to become effective.” The settlement, they added in a release, “is not an admission of wrongdoing or liability by Kroger” and the company “will continue to vigorously defend against any other claims and lawsuits relating to opioids that the final agreement does not resolve.”

The grocer called the agreement “an important milestone in the company’s efforts to resolve the pending opioid litigation and support abatement efforts.”

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said in a statement that the abatement funds “will help save lives, and we will make sure these companies can’t repeat their mistakes.”

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.