Walmart has also reportedly agreed to be on the hook for a $3 billion settlement, but the Walgreens settlement does not stop the case that SF City Attorney David Chiu is bringing against that pharmacy chain.
The national retail pharmacy chain and much-discussed SF shoplifting victim Walgreens seems to be taking two different tacks in the crime and drug use discourse. On one hand, the Examiner reported Friday that Walgreens is pressuring SF DA Brooke Jenkins to crack down on organized retail theft. But it’s a different story in courthouses all over the country, as CNN reports that Walgreens and CVS have offered to settle their opioid overprescription lawsuits for $10 billion after being sued by countless states and counties who claim those companies helped create the opioid crisis.
CNN details the proposed settlement. “CVS said if the settlement is reached, it would pay the states nearly $5 billion over 10 years beginning in 2023,” according to that network. “Walgreens said [it] would also pay about $5 billion in remediation payments over the course of 15 years.”
But deep in the New York Times coverage of the opioid settlement, we see one key detail that is very relevant to San Francisco. The Times notes that “Walgreens’ announcement does not, for example, resolve the second phase of a trial underway in San Francisco federal court to determine the amount the company must pay to the city and county to abate the cost of the ongoing opioid epidemic.”
That refers to SF City Attorney David Chiu’s opioid lawsuit against Walgreens for creating a “public menace” by overprescribing opioids, which Chiu alleges created the fentanyl crisis. Chiu’s suit details that Walgreens prescribed more than 100 million opioid pills in San Francisco alone. His litigation has already rung up opioid manufacturers Allergan and Teva Pharmaceuticals for a $54 billion settlement, and the Walgreens component of Chiu’s case is still in the courts.
It’s important to note this was just an announcement from Walgreens and CVS, not a formal settlement, essentially just a very public negotiation and offer of what they’re willing to pay. (Though the Times notes that a number of the litigation attorneys put out a statement urging their client cities and states to take the deal.) And as you see in Walgreens statement below, they’re taking the old “no admission of guilt” route that makes them seem like innocent bystanders in flooding the nation with oxy pills.
“We believe this is in the best interest of the company and our stakeholders at this time, and allows our pharmacists, dedicated healthcare professionals who live and work in the communities they serve, to continue playing a critical role in providing education and resources to help combat opioid misuse and abuse,” the Walgreens statement says.
In addition to the $5 billion apiece from Walgreen and CVS, Bloomberg is reporting that Walmart has tentatively offered to pay a $3 billion settlement. That is less relevant to SF, because there are no Walmarts in the City and County of San Francisco, though that big-box retailer has lo9cations in Alameda and Santa Clara counties.
Image: Kevin Y. via Yelp