Rosenblum announces pending $40 million opioid settlement for Oregon
A tentative agreement is part of nearly $1.4 billion nationwide by Kroger, which dispensed opioids through its pharmacies
Prescriptions for oxycodone and other opioids has fueled an epidemic nationwide. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum expects the state to receive $40 million from Kroger when states finalize a settlement agreement with the national grocery chain.
The tentative agreement is part of a $1.37 billion payout the company will make to states nationwide for its role in dispensing opioids and contributing to the deadly opioid addiction crisis.
The settlement is the latest among 10 multi-state cases against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors that Oregon has either led or joined. In their entirety, the agreements will provide Oregon about $700 million to put towards programs and initiatives to aid the state’s recovery from the epidemic.
In Oregon, Kroger owns Fred Meyer and QFC stores, which are located throughout the state.
“Opioid manufacturers, distributors, dispensers and consultants all had a hand in creating the opioid crisis, and they have a responsibility to pay for the devastating results of their reckless behavior, ” Rosenblum said in a statement. “I am pleased we are wrapping up settlements with the major involved pharmacies, including Fred Meyer (owned by Kroger), that so many Oregonians had come to trust for their health care needs.”
Oregon used to have one of the highest per-capita opioid prescription rates in the country. In the third quarter of 2012, the number of prescriptions peaked at nearly 1 million, according to state data. That compares with nearly 611,000 prescriptions in the second quarter of this year.
Deaths from prescription opioids also have fallen, from a high of 260 in 2006 to 153 in 2018, the most recent published date.
Those trends follow a state campaign against opioid prescriptions and the establishment of a monitoring program that tracks provider prescriptions. The Legislature recently expanded it to include veterinarians.
A state panel – the Opioid Settlement Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Board – administers the state’s 45% share of the funding, which includes programs to address addiction and collect data about addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services statewide. Cities and counties directly receive the other 55% of each settlement, including this one.
The ongoing settlement talks still need to establish what changes the grocery chain will make to its business practices to guard against opioid abuse.
The agreement, when finalized, will cover 36 states that Kroger or its subsidiaries operate in. Those also include: Dillons, Smith’s Food and Drug, Ralphs, King Soopers, Fry’s, City Market, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker’s, Gerbes, Pick ‘n Save, Metro Market and Mariano’s.
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