Giant Eagle, a 103-year-old company that owns a chain of supermarkets and pharmacies in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Maryland, agreed to settle lawsuits that accuse it of contributing to the opioid crisis in communities throughout Ohio.
The financial terms of the settlement—announced Oct. 29—were not initially disclosed. Two counties in Ohio—Lake and Trumbull—sued Giant Eagle, along with Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Boots Alliance.
According to Reuters, the two counties sued the pharmacy chains because they failed to prevent excessive amounts of opioid pills from flooding their communities or identify “red flags” of misuse.
Giant Eagle’s settlement was announced during the fourth week of a federal trial held in Cleveland and resolves 10 lawsuits filed by Lake and Trumbull Counties and other counties in the state.
“While Giant Eagle denies it was a cause of the opioid crisis, it recognizes the severity of the crisis, its impact on the public and the hard work of the public officials working to address the harms,” the company said, per Reuters.
Although opioid lawsuits had been filed by more than 3,300 state and municipal governments, the Ohio lawsuit is noteworthy because it’s the first trial in which pharmacy chains have been the focus of opioid litigation.
Nationwide, over the last two decades, more than 500,000 overdose deaths have occurred.
In July, the three largest drug distributors in the U.S.—McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp.—along with drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, proposed a $26 billion settlement to resolve claims against them.
In August, a bankruptcy judge approved a bankruptcy plan for Purdue Pharma, maker of the opioid drug OxyContin. The plan would strip the Sackler family of ownership of Purdue while allocating profits of OxyContin to drug-treatment programs and others that would mitigate the costs for state and local governments to address the opioid epidemic.