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San Francisco to get record-breaking $230 million from Walgreens amid immense pain from drug epidemic

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San Francisco will receive nearly $230 million in a historic anti-opioid legal settlement with Walgreens, an infusion of funds that will help the city fight its devastating drug crisis.

The city will receive the settlement funds over a 14-year period, with the first $57 million due by June 2024, city attorney David Chiu said Wednesday. Most of the $175 million settlement will be paid within eight years, officials said.

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Opioids have wreaked havoc across our nation, leading to immense suffering and untold harm, Chiu said in a statement.

Approximately $29 million from the settlement will pay the city’s attorney fees for various private law firms that have represented the city in the litigation.

Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors will determine exactly how the remaining severance funds will be spent. But Chius’ office said the money would be used to address the city’s opioid crisis, which has worsened in recent years as the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl has gained traction among drug users. About 2,300 people in San Francisco have died from drug overdoses since 2020, nearly double the death toll the city has seen from COVID-19. Overdose deaths rose 41 percent in the first three months of this year alone, and officials still don’t know exactly why.

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Breed in a statement thanked Chiu and his deputies for their incredible work on this groundbreaking cause.

Their relentless fight in our national opioid addiction crisis deserves our thanks and, more importantly, will help us continue our work to address the devastating impacts opioids have had on our city and our country, Breed said. .

San Francisco got the settlement after suing opioid manufacturers, distributors and distributors in 2018. At the end of last year, Walgreens was the only defendant that didn’t settle with the city. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ruled in August that the corporate pharmacy chain could be held responsible for much of the city’s severe opioid epidemic.

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Chiu said Wednesday that the $230 million settlement is the largest a city has ever received from a single company following an opioid litigation. West Virginia, by comparison, settled with Walgreens for $83 million, although it had secured a total of more than $950 million from all opioid lawsuits, the Associated Press reported in January. San Francisco’s opioid lawsuit settlements by all parties, including Walgreens, now total approximately $350 million.

Had San Francisco not sued Walgreens on its own and instead relied on a national opioid settlement with the company, the city’s stake would have been about $15 million, 15 times less than the settlement reached, according to Chiu.

There is no amount of money that will bring back the lives we have lost to this epidemic, Chiu said at a news conference on the steps of City Hall. We mourn our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers. But one thing we can do as lawyers is fight for justice to ensure those who cause harm are held accountable.

Breyer, the federal judge, found that Walgreens distributed more than 100 million prescription opioid pills between 2006 and 2020, but did not do enough to report suspicious prescriptions or prevent the pills from being used in illegal and harmful ways .

They were more concerned with profit than with meeting their legal obligations, Chiu said. They haven’t given their pharmacists time to conduct due diligence by pressuring their pharmacists to refill, refill, refill.

Walgreens in a statement released by a spokesman said it disputed liability and did not admit fault in the settlement agreement.

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