business news in context, analysis with attitude

From Bloomberg this morning:

"CVS Health Corp., Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Walmart Inc. have tentatively agreed to pay more than $12 billion to resolve thousands of state and local government lawsuits accusing the chains of mishandling opioid painkillers, according to people familiar with the matter.

"The proposed settlement -- potentially one of the last big accords spawned by more than five years of litigation over the highly addictive painkillers -- calls for CVS to pay $4.9 billion, Walgreens to pay at least $4 billion and Walmart to pay $3 billion, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the tentative deal.

"The settlement won’t be finalized until enough states, counties and cities agree to it, the people said. That’s the way a $26 billion opioid accord involving Johnson & Johnson and the three largest US drug distributors was structured in 2021."

The Wall Street Journal notes that CVS "said the agreement isn’t an admission of guilt and that it would continue to defend against any litigation that the settlement doesn’t resolve."

KC's View:

Sure.  Because nothing says "I'm not guilty" like writing a $5 billion check.

I'm sure that there are all sorts of reasons that companies are allowed to cut deals like these in which they are allowed to claim that they haven't admitted guilt.  It is such a crock, reflective of a culture in which shame and responsibility seem to be alien to how companies do business.

Executives from all the companies that contributed to the opioid epidemic - and all the lives it destroyed - should get their own, special, particularly fiery circle of hell.