The city of West University Place has been allocated more than $34,600 in settlement funds with Allergan, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart as a part of a nationwide investigation and litigation between the pharmaceutical industry and its role in the country’s opioid crisis.

West University Place City Council leaders stated in the March 13 consent agenda they will join in the settlements. That brings a total of three settlements West U will opt into after the city chose to participate in a November 2021 agreement with Johnson & Johnson, as well as a February 2022 agreement with global pharmaceutical companies Endo and Teva, according to agenda documents.

For now, the direction of where the $35,000 will be allocated is an ongoing discussion between city leaders and where the money will be used appropriately, according to West U City Manager Dave Beach. Funds will not go into the general fund, Beach said, but ideally could replenish costs incurred from an organizational standpoint, Beach added.

“You can look at paramedics, the amount of medication that we’ve had to use to treat people overdosing and things like that—that it goes to replenish the supplies that shouldn’t have been used in the first place,” Beach said.

According to most recent data available from the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of reported opioid overdose deaths nearly doubled in Texas from January 2019 to October 2021.
In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies began marketing prescription opioid pain relievers as drugs that were not as addictive as previously thought, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As a result, these drugs, which had formerly been prescribed only to treat acute pain, became the prescription of choice to treat chronic, long-term pain.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Jan. 20 the state was finalizing opioid agreements with CVS and Walgreens totaling $10.7 billion nationally, with CVS paying $5 billion and Walgreens paying $5.7 billion, according to a news release.

"Every single day, Americans from all backgrounds are suffering from opioid addiction and its destructive consequences. The tragic and infuriating reality is that this epidemic has not happened by accident. There are companies that have played a role in worsening, and in many cases causing, opioid addiction. They must be held responsible, and CVS and Walgreens are no exception,” Paxton said in the January news release.

If there is sufficient sign-on from states and local governments around the country, the payments will start during the second half of 2023, Paxton’s office stated in the news release.