On Wednesday, San Francisco announced that it had struck a $230 million settlement with Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. about that company’s contribution to the city’s opioid problem.
The agreement was reached nine months after San Francisco’s US District Judge Charles Breyer declared that the drugstore chain may be held accountable for having “substantially contributed” to an opioid epidemic that had “widespread harm” and constituted a public nuisance in the city.
Breyer criticised Walgreens for its “15-year failure” to thoroughly review opioid prescriptions and signal potential abuse of the occasionally extremely addictive medications.
In years of countrywide opioid litigation, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu referred to the Walgreens settlement as the greatest reward given to a local government during a press conference.
What was the trial all about?
There is “no amount of money that will bring back the lives we have lost,” he claimed, adding that Walgreens’ actions “made the opioid epidemic in San Francisco worse than it otherwise would have been.”
Walgreens stated in a statement that while it “disputes liability” and made no admission of guilt, the settlement enables it to concentrate on patients, customers, and communities. “Our thoughts are with those impacted by this tragic crisis,” it continued.
After numerous drug makers and distributors secured settlements totalling more than $120 million, the Deerfield, Illinois-based business was the only one still named as a defendant in San Francisco’s civil case.
Breyer determined that Walgreens had a profit-driven “fill, fill, fill” culture when distributing opioids in his judgement on August 10 of last year following a non-jury trial.
San Francisco, Walgreens settle opioid lawsuit for $230 million
Breyer discovered that between 2006 and 2020, Walgreens’ San Francisco pharmacies received more than 1.2 million opioid prescriptions with “red flags,” but only checked fewer than 5% of them before issuing them.
San Francisco had predicted that the opioid issue may cost $8.1 billion to solve and that Walgreens was legally responsible for the entire sum.
This settled with Florida for $683 million in May of last year, paying more than three-quarters of the $878 million that four other businesses, including rival CVS Health Corp., had previously agreed to pay in comparable agreements.
Opioids include varied dosages of the narcotic fentanyl as well as prescription medications like OxyContin.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report that from 1999 to 2021, there were more than 600,000 drug overdose deaths in the US, including more than 107,000 in only that year.
Shares of Walgreens closed Wednesday’s trading on Nasdaq up 69 cents at $32.04.