Walgreens contributed to San Francisco opioid disaster, decide guidelines

Decide guidelines Walgreens contributed to San Francisco’s opioid disaster


San Francisco — A federal decide dominated Wednesday that Walgreens could be held liable for contributing to San Francisco’s opioid disaster for over-dispensing extremely addictive medication for years with out correct oversight and failing to determine and report suspicious orders as required by regulation.

San Francisco Metropolis Legal professional David Chiu mentioned the pharmacy chain “frequently violated what they have been required to do beneath the federal Managed Substances Act,” failing to trace opioid prescriptions, stopping pharmacists from vetting prescriptions and never seeing “the various purple flags of physicians and others who have been dramatically over-prescribing.”

“Pharmacists have been pressured to fill, fill, fill,” he mentioned, “and consequently, Walgreens crammed our streets with opioids.”

“This resolution provides voice to the hundreds of lives misplaced to the opioid epidemic,” Chiu mentioned in a ready assertion cited by CBS Information Bay Space. “This disaster didn’t come out of nowhere. It was created by the opioid trade, and native jurisdictions like San Francisco have needed to shoulder the burden for much too lengthy. We’re grateful the Court docket heard our arguments and held Walgreens liable for the injury they prompted.”

U.S. District Decide Charles Breyer wrote in his resolution that from 2006 to 2020, “Walgreens pharmacies in San Francisco allotted a whole lot of hundreds of purple flag opioid prescriptions with out performing ample due diligence. Tens of hundreds of those prescriptions have been written by docs with suspect prescribing patterns. The proof confirmed that Walgreens didn’t present its pharmacists with adequate time, staffing, or sources to carry out due diligence on these prescriptions.”

He mentioned the big quantity of illegitimate opioid prescriptions contributed to the town’s hospitals being overwhelmed with opioid sufferers, libraries being compelled to shut due to syringe-clogged bogs, and syringes littering youngsters’s playgrounds in San Francisco.

Walgreens’ response  

A Walgreens spokesman mentioned the chain is disillusioned within the end result, which he mentioned just isn’t supported by the info and the regulation. The chain informed CBS Information Bay Space it plans to attraction the choice.

“As now we have mentioned all through this course of, we by no means manufactured or marketed opioids, nor did we distribute them to the ‘tablet mills’ and web pharmacies that fueled this disaster,” spokesman Fraser Engerman mentioned in a press release. “The plaintiff’s try to resolve the opioid disaster with an unprecedented growth of public nuisance regulation is misguided and unsustainable. We stay up for the chance to deal with these points on attraction.”

San Francisco in 2018 sued Walgreens and drug producers and distributors over the town’s worsening opioid epidemic, saying they created a “public nuisance” by flooding the town with prescription opioids. All the opposite defendants beforehand settled with the town for a complete of $114 million, together with $54 million that opioid makers Allergan and Teva agreed to pay on the eve of closing arguments within the trial, leaving Walgreens as the only real defendant.

Wednesday’s ruling didn’t embody a ruling on financial damages, which shall be decided in a future trial.

Opioids’ toll

The opioid epidemic has been linked to greater than 500,000 deaths within the U.S. over the previous 20 years, counting these from prescription painkillers resembling OxyContin and generic oxycodone in addition to illicit medication resembling heroin and illegally produced fentanyl.

The surge in deaths has led to greater than 3,000 lawsuits filed by state and native governments, Native American tribes, unions, hospitals and different entities in state and federal courts over the toll of opioids.

In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency final yr within the Tenderloin neighborhood, saying one thing needed to be carried out in regards to the excessive focus of drug sellers and folks consuming medication in public.

Town lawyer’s workplace says San Francisco noticed a virtually 500% improve in opioid-related overdose deaths between 2015 and 2020 and that on a typical day, roughly 1 / 4 of visits on the Zuckerberg San Francisco Normal Hospital Emergency Division are opioid-related.

In 2020, 712 individuals died of drug overdoses, in contrast with 257 individuals who died of COVID-19, in accordance with the town well being division.

A excessive share of an estimated 7,800 homeless individuals in San Francisco – a lot of whom pitch tents within the Tenderloin – are fighting continual dependancy or extreme psychological sickness, typically each. Some individuals rant within the streets, nude and in want of medical assist.

Pharmacy chains have been sued much less typically than opioid makers or wholesalers that distribute prescription drugs extra broadly. In a single groundbreaking case, a federal jury in Ohio final yr discovered CVS, Walgreens and Walmart recklessly distributed large quantities of ache tablets in two Ohio counties.

In Might, Walgreens reached a $683 million settlement with the state of Florida in a lawsuit accusing the corporate of improperly allotting tens of millions of painkillers that contributed to the opioid disaster. Walgreens didn’t admit wrongdoing in its settlement with Florida and can make funds to the state over 18 years.

The corporate additionally faces litigation in Alabama, Michigan and New Mexico, amongst different states.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. runs a community of round 9,000 drugstores in the USA. Walgreens and different prescription drug distributors have confronted a slew of lawsuits over the opioid disaster. 

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