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Michigan announces framework for opioid settlement with Walmart

K-State Research and Extension

Michigan is taking part in a $3.1 billion nationwide opioid settlement with Walmart announced this week.

The retail giant faces accusations of helping fuel the opioid crisis by not properly overseeing how the drugs were handled at its pharmacies.

“Walmart’s lax dispensing of prescription opioids has resulted in thousands of Michigan families being touched by substance use disorder or the death of a loved one due to opioid use. This settlement will provide needed funds for intervention and treatment, as well as hold Walmart accountable for the lack of oversight at its pharmacies,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement.

Walmart denies all wrongdoing. It’s pointing to a paragraph in the settlement framework acknowledging the company sold fewer opioids per store than other major chains and had controls and policies in place for handling the drugs.

“Walmart believes the settlement framework is in the best interest of all parties and will provide significant aid to communities across the country in the fight against the opioid crisis, with aid reaching state and local governments faster than any other nationwide opioid settlement to date, subject to satisfying all settlement requirements,” the company said in a press release.

Those requirements include at least 43 states, and a certain threshold of local governments, agreeing to participate in the settlement.

Still, the settlement could provide Michigan with millions to pay for treatment and recovery services. Documents show the state could receive around 3.8% of the total settlement amount under a projected breakdown.

Approved uses for the funds include “core abatement strategies,” like medication assisted treatment, care for neonatal abstinence syndrome, and expanding syringe services programs.

The framework gives states until mid-December to decide if they want to take part. Localities have through the end of March.

If all conditions are met, money could come over the course of a six-year period.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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