(PatrioticPost.com)- Last Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that Walgreens contributed to San Francisco’s ongoing opioid epidemic through its sale of prescription drugs in the city by failing to properly investigate suspicious opioid prescriptions for nearly 15 years. The judge will determine the amount the pharmacy chain must pay in restitution in a later hearing.
In his ruling, US District Judge Charles Breyer wrote that from 2006 to 2020, Walgreens pharmacists filled hundreds of thousands of suspicious opioid prescriptions because the company did not give the pharmacists the time, staffing, or resources necessary to adequately investigate red flags.
The city of San Francisco sued Walgreens in 2018 along with several drug manufacturers and distributors alleging they created a “public nuisance” by flooding the city with prescription opioids by failing to prevent the prescriptions from being diverted for illegal use.
After the trial began in April, all of the defendants except Walgreens reached settlement deals with the city.
Judge Breyer said the city had shown that the pharmacy chain’s lax oversight led to illegal drug use that substantially contributed to San Francisco’s opioid epidemic.
Walgreens has already said it intends to appeal Breyer’s ruling.
In a statement last week, Walgreens spokesman Fraser Engerman said the company has never made or marketed opioids, nor has Walgreens distributed them to the “pill mills” or internet pharmacies that have fueled the opioid crisis.
Over the last twenty years, the epidemic has caused over half a million opioid overdoses in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
San Francisco has been hit especially hard by the opioid epidemic, with opioid-related ER visits tripling from 886 in 2015 to nearly 3,000 in 2020.
Over 3,300 opioid lawsuits have been filed throughout the US against drug manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies, leading to many, though no pharmacies, agreeing to global settlements.
In a similar trial in 2021, Walgreens, along with co-defendants CVS Health Inc and Walmart, was found liable for contributing to the opioid epidemic in two Ohio counties. They are still waiting on an Ohio court to rule on the amount they must pay in restitution.