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IPFS News Link • Drugs and Medications

Walgreens 'Helped Fuel' Opioid Crisis in San Francisco, Says Judge

• https://reason.com, ELIZABETH NOLAN BROWN

Is Walgreens an illicit drug dealer? That's essentially what a federal court has ruled, suggesting the pharmacy should have stopped "suspicious orders" for opioids from being filled. In failing to do so, the retailer "substantially contributed" to the opioid epidemic in San Francisco, Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled.

Walgreens was "responsible for shipping nearly 1 out of every 5 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills distributed nationwide during the height of the opioid crisis," reports The Washington Post. And "more than 100 million prescription opioid pills were dispensed by Walgreens in [San Francisco] between 2006 and 2020," notes the Los Angeles Times.

Walgreens isn't accused of filling fake prescriptions; the opioid orders it filled were written by licensed doctors. But some of these doctors had "suspect prescribing patterns," noted Breyer. And other orders were written by doctors who would go on to have their licenses revoked or face criminal punishment. The judge agreed with the city and county of San Francisco, which brought the suit, that Walgreens pharmacists were negligent in not realizing something was afoot and therefore illegally contributed to a public nuisance. A trial will be held to determine damages owed.

"The effects of the opioid epidemic on San Francisco have been catastrophic. The city has fought hard and continues to do so, but the opioid epidemic, which Walgreens helped fuel, continues to substantially interfere with public rights in San Francisco," Breyer wrote.


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