San Francisco says its plan to attack the opioid crisis will cost $8.1 billion over 15 years. The city asked a federal judge to order Walgreens Boots Alliance to contribute to the effort "in an amount that will do justice to the parties and the public interest." The city said Walgreens is legally liable for the entire $8.1 billion after U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ruled that it contributed to the opioid crisis. Several drugmakers and distributors separately settled with the city, reports Reuters. Walgreens has denied liability. The city said Walgreens should have funds available to pay other jurisdictions around the U.S. in similar cases. In its brief, Walgreens called the plan wasteful and unnecessary, arguing that it failed to take into account that many people needing treatment for opioid addiction are covered by private insurance and that the city seeks "a windfall."
In 2018 San Francisco sued Walgreens and several drug manufacturers and distributors over the opioid epidemic, saying they created a "public nuisance" by supplying prescription opioids and failing to prevent the drugs from being diverted for illegal use. The trial was split into two phases, with liability and remedy decided separately. After his decision in the liability trial, Breyer found that Walgreens' pharmacists filled hundreds of thousands of suspicious opioid prescriptions from 2006 to 2020 with pharmacists not given time, staffing or resources to investigate red flags. Walgreens has consistently resisted settling opioid cases. The firm is facing cases in New Mexico and West Virginia and was ordered along with CVS and Walmart to pay $650 million to two Ohio counties.