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Rite Aid files for bankruptcy, announces financial restructuring plans amid opioid complaints, lawsuits

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(NEW YORK) — One of the nation’s largest drugstore chains has voluntarily initiated the Chapter 11 process for bankruptcy protection.

Rite Aid announced Sunday that the company had reached an agreement with creditors on the terms of its financial restructuring plan that will “increase its financial flexibility” and “significantly reduce” its existing debt.

In addition to billions in debt and slumping sales, Rite Aid has faced over 1,000 federal, state and local lawsuits that claim its pharmacies allegedly filled thousands of illegal prescriptions for painkillers, according to the New York Times. In March, the Justice Department filed a complaint against the company, claiming it filled “unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances” that allegedly had obvious and often multiple red flags, indicating misuse. The company has denied those claims.

In its press release Sunday, the company stated it will “resolve litigation claims in an equitable manner.”

Rite Aid did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for additional comment.

Rite Aid says it employs more than 6,100 pharmacists and operates over 2,100 retail pharmacy locations across 17 states.

The company said Sunday it had secured a commitment for $3.45 billion in new financing and debt reduction agreements under the court-supervised process which is “expected to provide sufficient liquidity to support the Company throughout this process,” adding that it would also close some underperforming store locations and sell off some assets in order to “reduce the Company’s rent expense” and “strengthen its overall financial performance.”

“The Company is making every effort to ensure customers of impacted stores have access to health services, whether at another Rite Aid or a nearby pharmacy, and will work to transfer prescriptions accordingly so that there is no disruption of services,” the company stated. Rite Aid “will also transfer associates at impacted stores to other Rite Aid locations where possible.”

Rite Aid also announced Jeffrey S. Stein will officially take over for Elizabeth Burr as chief executive officer. He will also serve as chief restructuring officer and a member of the company’s board of directors. Burr is expected to “continue in her role as a Director on the Company’s Board,” Rite Aid said.

“Rite Aid has served customers and communities across our country for more than 60 years, and the important actions we are taking today will enable us to move ahead as a stronger company,” Stein said in a statement. “With the support of our lenders, we look forward to strengthening our financial foundation, advancing our transformation initiatives and accelerating the execution of our turnaround strategy. In doing so, we will be even better able to deliver the healthcare products and services our customers and their families rely on now and into the future.”

 

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