GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – In the past 20 years, more than 3,000 lawsuits have been filed against pharmacies, opioid manufacturers, and distributors, accusing them of downplaying the addiction and risk of opioids.
On Wednesday, CVS and Walgreens pharmacies announced agreements to pay around $5 billion each to settle these nationwide opioid lawsuits.
Richard Morefield, a licensed clinical addiction specialist in Greenville says there is a serious need in the opioid crisis.
“We see a tremendous need and all over North Carolina. Most of the time they pop up and say, ‘thank you for saving my life’ leave, and we often see the same person come back time and time again, the same day, the same week, the same month,” Morefield says.
Morefield also laid out his ideas for the best ways to use the settlement. “Education, prevention, and treatment once someone becomes an addict or has a substance use disorder and that’s where I think the money should be focused.”
While he is hopeful for the future use of the settlement, there are still concerns.
Morefield states, “Over this five-to-ten-year period of time, it’s going to look like little pieces of money coming in very slowly, and that I think is a shame because the money can be used now, especially for education and prevention.”
Natasha Jackson with Hakuna Wellness Center is ready to see a positive change in the community.
“I think the settlement and money would be beneficial to treat the whole person with counseling, even financial to get them back on their feet. I’m just praying and hoping that the money will be used to better the resources that’s out there,” Jackson told us.
Data shows the opioid crisis has claimed more than half-a-million lives over the past two years and that 80,000 of these deaths were in 2021 alone.
Along with CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, one lawyer said Walmart being added into this settlement is also being discussed.
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