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Federal judge finds Walgreens liable for contributing to San Francisco opioid crisis

Some concerned federal money for opioid epidemic not going to highest risk groups
Posted at 5:57 PM, Aug 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-11 17:57:59-04

A California federal judge ruled this week that Walgreens can be held responsible for contributing to the opioid crisis in San Francisco.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer found that the pharmacy chain over-dispensed the addictive substances without proper due diligence and failed to report suspicious orders, the San Francisco City Attorney's office said in a press release.

In a 112-page opinion, Breyer wrote that over a 15-year span, the pharmacy chain wrote a lot of illegitimate opioid prescriptions, which led to hospitals being overwhelmed with opioid patients, syringe-clogged toilets forcing the closure of libraries, and children's playgrounds being littered with syringes, the Associated Press reported.

"Walgreens pharmacies in San Francisco dispensed hundreds of thousands of red flag opioid prescriptions without performing adequate due diligence. Tens of thousands of these prescriptions were written by doctors with suspect prescribing patterns," Breyer wrote the Associated Press reported. "The evidence showed that Walgreens did not provide its pharmacists with sufficient time, staffing, or resources to perform due diligence on these prescriptions."

According to the press release, a ruling on monetary damages will be determined in the "next stage of the trial."

“This decision gives voice to the thousands of lives lost to the opioid epidemic,” said San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu in a statement. “This crisis did not come out of nowhere. It was created by the opioid industry, and local jurisdictions like San Francisco have had to shoulder the burden for far too long. We are grateful the Court heard our arguments and held Walgreens responsible for the damage they caused.”

This isn't the first lawsuit Walgreens has had to deal with regards to the opioid crisis.

In May, the pharmacy chain reached a $683 million settlement with the state of Florida after they were accused of contributing to the crisis by improperly dispensing painkillers by the millions, the Associated Press reported.