Rite Aid Corp. resolved a fight with its largest supplier of prescription drugs, McKesson Corp., that the retailer said threatened its ability to continue providing customers with life saving medicines and imperiled its ability to survive bankruptcy.
(Bloomberg) — Rite Aid Corp. resolved a fight with its largest supplier of prescription drugs, McKesson Corp., that the retailer said threatened its ability to continue providing customers with life saving medicines and imperiled its ability to survive bankruptcy.
Lawyers for the two companies said during a court hearing Tuesday in New Jersey that they’ve agreed in principal to a settlement that will end a lawsuit Rite Aid filed against McKesson over their supply agreement. The settlement ensures that Rite Aid’s stock of prescription drugs won’t be impacted during its Chapter 11 case, the lawyers said.
The deal avoids a potentially costly fight that could have hindered Rite Aid’s restructuring efforts. Rite Aid claimed McKesson was threatening to walk away from the supply agreement unless it paid for new goods when delivered, describing the effort as “a cynical ploy for negotiating leverage” over the retailer. McKesson argued the long-term supply deal ended prior to the bankruptcy.
Rite Aid lawyer Josh Sussberg said the retailer has now agreed to pay McKesson within seven days of receiving new products, versus 19 days previously. Terms of the proposed settlement must be documented and the agreement might be challenged by other Rite Aid creditors, he added. Any settlement must be approved by Judge Michael Kaplan, who is overseeing Rite Aid’s Chapter 11 case.
Read More: Rite Aid Rushes Sale of Unit Over Objection of Mystery Suitor
McKesson said in a Monday court filing that its supply agreement automatically terminated either before Rite Aid filed bankruptcy — because the pharmacy chain was already insolvent — or when the retailer filed Chapter 11. McKesson claimed Rite Aid already owes more than $720 million under the supply agreement, and was demanding more products worth as much as $1 billion without any assurance of payment, according to court papers.
Despite the impending bankruptcy, the company told Rite Aid it was willing to continue supplying products so long as the retailer paid for the goods upon delivery, according to McKesson Senior Vice President James Justin Bowers. Rite Aid refused those terms, and said McKesson would be responsible for damages associated with terminating the agreement, Bowers said in a court filing.
Rite Aid’s lawsuit disputed McKesson’s characterization of risks associated with continuing the supply agreement, and accused McKesson of threatening to halt the supply of prescription drugs.
“McKesson’s gambit — threatening to immediately stop the supply of hundreds of thousands of prescriptions per day if Rite Aid will not accede to McKesson’s demands — is opportunism and corporate greed in its basest form,” Rite Aid said in its lawsuit. “And it is plainly illegal.”
Rite Aid said in court papers that it buys all of its branded pharmaceuticals and most of its generic drugs from McKesson.
The case is Rite Aid Corp., 23-18993, US Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.