Walgreens agrees to nearly $230M settlement with SF over opioid crisis, city attorney says

"This historic agreement ensures Walgreens is held accountable for the crisis they fueled."

Bay City News
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Walgreens has agreed to a nearly $230 million settlement with San Francisco after being held responsible by a federal judge last year for contributing to the city's ongoing opioid crisis.

San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu announced the settlement Wednesday, saying the money will help the city's opioid crisis response.

This is an undated file image of Walgreens in an undisclosed location.
This is an undated file image of Walgreens in an undisclosed location.

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"Following our win against Walgreens during the liability phase, this historic agreement ensures Walgreens is held accountable for the crisis they fueled and our city receives appropriate resources to combat the opioid crisis and bring relief to our communities," Chiu said in a news release.

Chiu said the suit, which began in 2018, resulted in the nation's first successful bench trial involving opioid manufactures and pharmacies and the first bench trial to find Walgreens liable.

In August, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer found that the company "substantially contributed to an opioid epidemic with far-reaching and devastating effects across San Francisco" by "unlawful dispensing of illegitimate opioid prescriptions."

The city's public nuisance suit against Walgreens originally also involved several other plaintiffs, nearly all of whom already agreed to settlements.

The City Attorney's Office previously reached settlements of $10 million with pharmaceutical company Endo, $54 million with opioid manufacturers Allergan and Teva, roughly $11 million from CVS, $6 million from Walmart and $45 million from opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and distributors McKesson, Cardinal and AmerisourceBergen.

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San Francisco will also likely receive money from the bankruptcies of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, according to the City Attorney's Office.

"San Francisco and the Department of Public Health will use these critical funds to save lives and bring people into treatment," said San Francisco Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax.

Money from the agreement will be paid out during the next 14 years, with most coming in the first eight years, Chiu's office said.

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Mayor London Breed still must approve the settlement, which Breed applauded Wednesday.

Breed said the money will help with things like "treatment beds, dual diagnosis beds, abstinence based programming and transitional housing."

"We will incorporate the plans to use this funding in our upcoming budget, which is currently being finalized and must be submitted to the Board of Supervisors by the end of the month," she said. "I look forward to working with the Board members on this as part of our overall budget process."

Walgreens responded in a statement writing:

"Walgreens disputes liability and there is no admission of fault in the settlement agreement. We never manufactured or marketed opioids, nor did we distribute them to pill mills and internet pharmacies."