Capital Clicks

Iowa gets $70 million in opioid crisis agreement with CVS, Walgreens

By: - December 12, 2022 3:15 pm

A group representing small pharmacists says large chains, especially CVS, are moving patients’ prescriptions to their own stores without consent. CVS adamantly denies that. (Photo by Marty Schladen/Ohio Capital Journal)

Iowa will receive more than $70 million as part of a multistate agreement with CVS and Walgreens over the companies’ role in the opioid epidemic, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced Monday.

The agreements come following accusations from state attorneys general that the pharmacy chains contributed to the opioid epidemic by “ignoring red flags” about opioid prescriptions, and not taking action to prevent abuse of the drugs. Iowa was also part of a national $3.1 billion settlement with Walmart announced in November, after states accused the company of the same failed oversight.

“My colleagues and I have worked on a bipartisan basis to hold accountable the companies that created and fueled this crisis,” Miller said in a news release. “Securing more than $10 billion from CVS and Walgreens nationwide means our states can provide more resources for the treatment and prevention of Opioid Use Disorder to those most in need.”

The money from these agreements has not yet been dispensed. Iowa intends to join the agreement, Miller said, which must happen before the end of 2022. During the first quarter of 2023, the agreements will go to local governments for sign-on. From there, the pharmacy companies’ agreements have different dispersal timelines: funds from Walmart will be paid during the first year, CVS’s payments will happen over the course of 10 years, and Walgreens’ over the course of 15.

The longer payout calendars are an attempt to provide sustained funding for opioid treatment, recovery and prevention programs. States are required to spend much of the funds from these recent agreements — as well as those from earlier settlements with drug manufacturers — on programs and services helping people with opioid use disorder.

Iowa is entering 2023 with more than $19 million for the state Legislature for opioid recovery services. Services include methadone clinics and other “medication-assisted treatment” programs such as providing schools, first responders and community groups with Naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses.

People struggling with opioid dependence can use the Iowa website to find treatment providers across Iowa.

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.