In 2018, the city of San Francisco sued Walgreens as well as drug manufacturers and distributors for their roles in creating a “public nuisance” by worsening the opioid epidemic. All the other defendants settled for a total of $114 million. By the time of closing arguments, Walgreens was left as the sole defendant.
A federal judge ruled in August 2022 that Walgreens can be held responsible for contributing to San Francisco’s opioid crisis, citing failure to track opioid prescriptions as required by the Controlled Substances Act and an over-emphasis on filling prescriptions, preventing pharmacists from vetting physicians. In May 2023, the San Francisco City Attorney announced a nearly $230 million settlement agreement with Walgreens.
This is the first bench trial to decide in the plaintiff’s favor in the national opioid litigation, as well as the first bench trial to hold Walgreens liable.
Walgreens is the Retail Pharmacy USA Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., a publicly traded pharmacy, healthcare, and retail company with locations across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. Walgreens is one of the largest drugstore chains in the U.S., with approximately 9,000 stores and 17 distribution centers.
To date, Walgreens has agreed to pay about $5.7 billion over 15 years to resolve settlements nationwide. Walgreens and other pharmacies face additional opioid trials throughout the country in cases brought by states, local governments, hospitals and other third parties.
The Opioid Industry Documents Archive (OIDA) received documents with redactions. OIDA team members reviewed a sample of the documents to verify appropriate redaction of PII and PHI, adding additional redactions when warranted.
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law Regarding Walgreens, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. (2022). (Enhanced PDF includes links to declarations, trial transcripts and exhibits found within the Opioid Industry Documents Archive.)
Opioids Impact on San Francisco