Walgreens to pay San Francisco $230M for its role in opioid epidemic

A Walgreens logo at one of their stores in New York.
A Walgreens logo at one of their stores in New York. Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Walgreens has agreed to pay San Francisco nearly $230 million to settle a lawsuit over its role in the city's opioid crisis, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said Wednesday.

The pharmacy giant will pay $229.6 million to the city over the next 14 years, Chiu said in a press release, with the majority of this payment coming in the first eight years. The funds will be used to assist with the city's drug addiction problems.

Chiu noted that cities like San Francisco "have shouldered much of the burden of the opioid epidemic." He added that the settlement "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."

The $230 million is the largest payout that a city has ever received from a single company in an opioid-related lawsuit, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

San Francisco first sued Walgreens, Purdue Pharma, and other drug manufacturers in 2018, alleging that the companies negatively impacted the city's opioid crisis. Between 2014 and 2020, the number of opioid-related deaths in San Francisco increased by 500%, Chiu said. The lawsuits with Purdue and the other drug companies were previously settled for more than $120 million, Reuters reported.

This past August, a U.S. District Court found Walgreens liable, determining that the company "substantially contributed to an opioid epidemic with far-reaching and devastating effects across San Francisco" due to its "unlawful dispensing of illegitimate opioid prescriptions."

In a statement, per the Chronicle, Walgreens said the company "never manufactured or marketed opioids, nor did we distribute them to 'pill mills' and internet pharmacies. The settlement allows us to focus on our mission of reimagining healthcare and wellbeing. . . . Our thoughts are with those impacted by this tragic crisis."

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