Judge rules Walgreens contributed to San Francisco opioid crisis

Window shoppers look at a Walgreens storefront in San Francisco on June 26, 2006. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Walgreens can be held responsible for contributing to San Francisco's opioid crisis for over-dispensing highly addictive drugs for years without proper oversight and failing to identify and report suspicious orders as required by law.

San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said the pharmacy chain "continually violated what they were required to do under the federal Controlled Substances Act," failing to track opioid prescriptions, preventing pharmacists from vetting prescriptions and "nor did they see the many red flags of physicians and others who were dramatically over-prescribing."

"Pharmacists were pressured to fill, fill, fill," he said, "and as a result, Walgreens filled our streets with opioids."

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer wrote in his decision that from 2006 to 2020, "Walgreens pharmacies in San Francisco dispensed hundreds of thousands of red flag opioid prescriptions without performing adequate due diligence.