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Walgreens contributed to San Francisco's opioid crisis: Judge

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A federal judge ruled this week that Walgreens could be held liable for its contribution to the San Francisco opioid crisis.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer upheld the city's attorneys' argument that the pharmacy chain did not exercise adequate oversight over prescriptions. This includes overdispensing addictive substances and failing to report questionable orders. 

"He Walgreens Pharmacy of San Francisco dispensed hundreds of thousands of red flag opioid prescriptions without conducting proper due diligence," the judge wrote. "Tens of the thousands of these prescriptions were written by physicians with questionable prescribing patterns."

"The evidence suggests that Walgreens has had enough pharmacists to perform due diligence on these prescriptions." We didn't provide adequate time, personnel or resources," Breyer added.

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A Walgreens in San Francisco. (Google Maps)

Walgreens in San Francisco. (Google Maps) (Google Maps)

Judge noted influx of red flag opioid prescriptions led to San Francisco hospitals Overwhelmed, children's playgrounds are strewn with drugs, and even city libraries have been forced to close due to clogged toilets.  

Walgreens issued a statement denying the city's allegations. 

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, nor did we distribute them to the "Pill Mills" or internet pharmacies that fueled this crisis," said Fraser Engerman, a Walgreens spokesperson. }

Homeless people consume illegal drugs in an encampment along Willow St. in the Tenderloin district of downtown on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 in San Francisco, CA.

Homeless people took illegal drugs at a camp along Willow Street. Tenderloin neighborhood in downtown San Francisco, California on Thursday, February 24, 2022. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Engerman also argued that the ruling was an "unprecedented expansion of the pollution law," called the attempt "misguided" and unsustainable.

A ruling on monetary damages has not yet been decided. 

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Golden Gate City has been hit especially hard by the opioid crisis.Fentanyl-related overdoses killed 474 people in San Francisco last year,according to the city's health department.

Last week, San Francisco's new district attorney announced that he was revoking former DA Chesa Boudin's policy of offering lenient plea bargains to drug offenders.

People sleep near discarded clothing and used needles on a street in the Tenderloin neighborhood in San Francisco, on July 25, 2019. 

People sleep near discarded clothes and used needles on the street 2019 July 25, 2017 in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco.  (AP)

New policy will prevent serious criminals from being sent to San Francisco Police Department. Community Court of Justice (CJC). According to the San Francisco Superior Court, the CJC is a "progressive reform" program that addresses "major problems facing individuals, not just crime."

Under DA Brooke Jenkins' new policy, a dealer arrested with more than 5 grams of drugs can no longer refer her to the CJC. 


"The policies of the previous administration included no weight limit thresholds, non-compliance with CJC guidelines, arrests for as much as 500 grams of fentanyl, and {127 had allowed drug dealers to open multiple times.Fentanyl cases,, will be referred to the CJC, according to Jenkins' office. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.