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Walgreens Settles Florida Opioid Sales Suit for $683 Million (1)

May 5, 2022, 7:29 PM

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. reached a $683 million settlement with the state of Florida over claims that the company contributed to the opioid crisis by improperly marketing the painkillers.

The deal, which calls on the pharmacy chain to pay out $620 million over 18 years and sets aside another $63 million for attorney’s fees, puts an end to a trial in a state court north of Tampa. Florida officials alleged Walgreens dispensed more than 4 billion opioid prescriptions in Florida over a 15-year period starting in 2006 and failed to pick up on red flags about potential misuse on about half of the opioid prescriptions filled.

The settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing or liability by the company, Walgreens said Thursday in a statement.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens runs more than 9,000 stores across the U.S. and more than 800 outlets in Florida, according to the company website. The decision was in the best interest of all parties involved, said Danielle Gray, Walgreen’s executive vice president and global chief legal officer, in the statement.

“Our pharmacists are dedicated healthcare professionals who live and work in the communities they serve, and play a critical role in providing education and resources to help combat opioid misuse and abuse,” Gray said.

Florida is the first state to reach global settlements with major pharmacy chains, negotiating agreements with Walgreens and CVS Health Corp. worth more than $1.1 billion. The pharmacy operator still must defend itself at trial over accusations by San Francisco that it played a major role in the city’s opioid problems. It also faces a damages hearing in Cleveland next week after being held liable for mishandling the painkillers in two Ohio counties.

Florida’s claims are among more than 3,000 lawsuits filed by states, municipalities and Native American tribes across the country seeking billions of dollars from opioid makers, distributors and pharmacies over their alleged roles in fueling the U.S. opioid crisis.

Walgreens shares fell 2.3% as of 3:16 p.m. in New York.

The case is State of Florida v. Purdue Pharma, No 2018-CA-001438, Florida Circuit Court for Pasco County.

(Updates with other suits from third-last paragraph)

To contact the reporters on this story:
Fiona Rutherford in New York at frutherford@bloomberg.net;
Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware at jfeeley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Cynthia Koons at ckoons@bloomberg.net

John Lauerman

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.