Nov. 2, 2022 -- CVS and Walgreens, the country’s largest pharmacy chains, said Wednesday they would pay about $5 billion each to settle opioid lawsuits.

Walmart is involved in talks for an agreement, as well, a lawyer told the Associated Press.

The deals are agreements in principle. They would end thousands of suits from state and local governments alleging the stores filled prescriptions they should have suspected were not appropriate, the AP said.

Opioids have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the United States in the last 20 years, the AP reported.

Settlements have already been struck between some of the biggest drugmakers and distribution companies, totaling more than $50 billion. Most of the money must go to state and local governments to fight opioid abuse.

“It’s one more culprit of the overdose crisis that is having to pay their dues,” said Courtney Gary-Allen, organizing director of the Maine Recovery Advocacy Project. “Average Americans have been paying it for a long time.”

Neither CVS nor Walgreens admitted to wrongdoing in the deals.

“We are pleased to resolve these longstanding claims and putting them behind us is in the best interest of all parties, as well as our customers, colleagues and shareholders,” Thomas Moriarty, CVS chief policy officer and general counsel, said in a statement.

“We remain committed to being a part of the solution, and this settlement framework will allow us to keep our focus on the health and wellbeing of our customers and patients, while making positive contributions to address the opioid crisis,” Walgreens said in a statement.

Paul Geller, a lawyer for governments in the lawsuits, said talks with Walmart continue. Walmart representatives would not comment Wednesday.