This was demonstrated once again with a recent court ruling out of San Francisco declaring the Walgreens pharmacy chain as a substantial contributor to the opioid crisis in the city.
Walgreens shipped hundreds of thousands of "suspicious orders," according to U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, demonstrating its "fill, fill, fill culture" of drug distribution.
"Walgreens pharmacies in San Francisco dispensed hundreds of thousands of red-flag opioid prescriptions without performing adequate due diligence," Breyer ruled using non-jury trial means – meaning Walgreens can be held liable for much of San Francisco's opioid epidemic.
Another trial will be held in the future, Breyer indicated, to determine the full extent of Walgreens' liability. (Related: An Ohio jury also found both Walgreens and CVS guilty of fueling the opioid epidemic across the entire country.)
"Walgreens pharmacies in San Francisco dispensed hundreds of thousands of red-flag opioid prescriptions without performing adequate due diligence," Breyer wrote in his ruling, which stems from the case of City and County of San Francisco v. Purdue Pharma, also known as the Opioid Trial.
"The evidence showed that Walgreens did not provide its pharmacists with sufficient time, staffing, or resources to perform due diligence on these prescriptions."
The Opioid Trial is considered to be a "bellwether case" by federal courts because it has potential nationwide implications. If a success, drug chains like Walgreens could face convictions all across the land, possibly impacting the pharmaceutical industry as well.
In San Francisco, Walgreens was the only drug chain to not reach a settlement with the city. Thus, Breyer is holding the company liable for its crimes.
"Walgreens has hidden, covered up, and run from the truth throughout the entirety of this five-year litigation," said Peter Mougey, an attorney representing San Francisco and other municipalities in the area.
"Walgreens knew its system to detect and stop suspicious orders was nonexistent but continued to ship opioids at an alarming pace to increase profits. San Francisco is now one step closer to starting the healing process."
Between 2015 and 2020, overdoses of heroin and fentanyl skyrocketed in San Francisco. Data from the city shows a 478 percent increase in opioid-related deaths during that period, as well as a tripling of opioid-related emergency room visits.
In 2020 alone, some 3,000 people in San Francisco had to be rushed to the hospital for an opioid overdose, a phenomenon that Breyer concluded was substantially contributed to by Walgreens' prescribing habits.
Some people like to joke that California has a drug problem because of its left-wing politics. But the reality is that Big Pharma, which is supported and promoted by both the left and the right, is directly responsible for needles littering parks, as one example.
City officials in San Francisco testified during the recent trial that at the height of the opioid crisis there, which was largely driven by pharmacies such as Walgreens, needles were being removed from city parks "like changing out the toilet paper in the restrooms," to quote one park ranger.
Whenever someone was spotted passed out and not breathing, rangers simply assumed that it was an opioid overdose because it typically was. And between 2006 and 2020, Walgreens dispensed more than 100 million prescriptions for opioid pills while failing to take appropriate actions to ensure they were legal, directly contributing to the city's drug problem.
According to reports, San Francisco is also pursuing $120 million in damages from seven drug manufacturers including Allergan, Teva, Endo Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson, along with distributors McKesson, Cardinal, and AmerisourceBergen.
The latest news about the opioid epidemic can be found at BadMedicine.news.
Sources for this article include: