Walgreens has reached a settlement with the state of Florida to resolve claims related to the distribution and dispensing of prescription opioid medications.
The settlement amount of $683 million includes $620 million to be paid out to Florida over 18 years, and a one-time payment of $63 million for attorneys’ fees. The settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing or liability by Walgreens, which has about 820 stores in the Sunshine State.
Walgreens was the 12th defendant to settle with Florida after the state filed lawsuits against major opioid manufacturers and distributors, including Walgreens rival CVS Health. In the Walgreens case, Florida claimed that of the more than 4.3 billion total opioid pills the retailer dispensed in the state from May 2006 to June 2021, more than half contained one or more easily recognized red flags for abuse, fraud and addiction that the company should have noticed and acted upon.
(In March, CVS Health entered into a $484 million agreement with Florida to resolve claims dating back more than a decade related to prescriptions for opioid medications that were filled at CVS Pharmacy locations in the state.)
The settlement funds will be used by Florida to support its efforts to combat and treat opioid addiction.
In a release, Walgreens detailed a number of actions it has taken to prevent and respond to the opioid crisis. These include:
- Providing patient education on safe opioid use;
- Making life-saving Naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication, available in all Walgreens pharmacies nationwide;
- Providing safe and convenient medication disposal kiosks available at 1,400 Walgreens stores, along with other safe disposal options at all other Walgreens locations;
- Deploying technology to help pharmacists ensure they are dispensing prescriptions written for a legitimate medical purpose; and
- Stopping self-distribution of opioids and all pharmaceuticals to Walgreens stores in 2014.
“As the largest pharmacy chain in the state, we remain focused on and committed to being part of the solution, and believe this resolution is in the best interest of all parties involved and the communities we serve across Florida,” said Danielle Gray, executive VP and global chief legal officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance. “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.”