Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today announced an agreement in principle with national grocery giant Kroger that will require the grocery chain to pay a total of $1.37 billion to participating state and local governments, including Oregon, for their role as a dispenser of opioids in the country’s ongoing crisis. Oregon will receive approximately $40 million. In Oregon, Kroger owns Fred Meyer and QFC stores, which can be found in every corner of the state.
“Opioid manufacturers, distributors, dispensers and consultants all had a hand in creating the opioid crisis, and they have a responsibility to pay for the devastating results of their reckless behavior, ” said Attorney General Rosenblum, whose team was a leader in the negotiations. “I am pleased we are wrapping up settlements with the major involved pharmacies, including Fred Meyer (owned by Kroger), that so many Oregonians had come to trust for their health care needs. It will be a while before that trust is fully regained, but this settlement is a good start,” added AG Rosenblum.
The settlement has yet to be concluded; a number of issues and terms will need to be resolved over the coming months. In addition to the financial terms, a final settlement remains contingent on agreement on critical business practice changes. Once finalized, the agreement would be applicable to the 36 states in which Kroger operates, both under its own name or under the name of other subsidiaries. In addition to owning the Fred Meyer and QFC brands, Kroger also owns and operates other stores across the nation, including Dillons, Smith’s Food and Drug, Ralphs, King Soopers, Fry’s, City Market, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker’s, Gerbes, Pick ‘n Save, Metro Market, and Mariano’s.
In 2022, the Oregon legislature created an Opioid Settlement Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Board (PTR Board), administered by the Oregon Health Authority and overseen by a board of health policy experts and state and local government representatives. The PTR Board administers the state’s 45% share of funds that are to be used to address substance use disorder and invest in an evidence-based state system to collect, analyze, and publish data about the efficacy of substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery services across the state. The other 55% from each settlement goes directly to Oregon cities and counties and also must be used to address substance use disorder.
In just the past two years, the Oregon Department of Justice has led or joined onto nine multi-state agreements with pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy chains alike – companies that either manufactured, distributed, produced, or dispensed opioids. Those judgments secured billions of dollars nationally and upwards of 700 million dollars for Oregon to fund opioid abatement and recovery.
Joining Oregon’s Attorney General in leading the negotiations are AGs in California, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.