Kroger announced Friday that it has agreed to pay up to $1.2 billion to settle the majority of allegations that the company helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic.
The settlement will be paid out to states, local governments and Native American tribes over multiple years. If all conditions are met, it “would allow for the full resolution of all claims,” Kroger said in a statement.
Kroger said this marked an “important milestone” in its efforts to resolve the pending opioid litigation and support abatement efforts.
The company said that this settlement “is not an admission of wrongdoing or liability by Kroger,” adding that it has been a “leader in combatting opioid abuse.”
The company said it plans “to vigorously defend against any other claims and lawsuits relating to opioids that the final agreement does not resolve.”
Kroger took a $1.4 billion charge related to the opioid settlement in the second quarter. It posted a loss of $180 million, or 25 centers per share, during the quarter.
The company is one of a handful of retail pharmacy chains that were accused of failing to control the distribution of highly addictive opioids, contributing to the oversupply of painkillers in communities around the nation.
Nearly 645,000 people died from overdoses involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids, from 1999 to 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last fall, CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Walmart agreed to pay about $13.8 billion to resolve thousands of state and local government lawsuits involving opioid painkillers.
The Rite Aid pharmacy chain – which is reportedly planning to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – is also facing allegations that it “knowingly” contributed to the opioid crisis.