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Walgreens reaches $683 mln opioid settlement with Florida

Walgreens Boots Alliance said on Thursday (May 5) it has reached a $683 million settlement with Florida to resolve claims that the pharmacy chain exacerbated an opioid epidemic in the state.

The settlement includes $620 million to be paid to Florida over 18 years, plus $63 million for legal fees.

Florida is the first state to settle its opioid claims against major pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS Health Corp, collecting more than $1.1 billion from the two companies.

The settlement ends a trial that began on April 11, after Walgreens decided not to join a combined $878 million settlement with four other CVS Health companies, including CVS.

Walgreens did not admit to wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Florida has recovered more than $3.6 billion in opioid litigation against drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies, according to Moody.

It will spend most of the money on efforts to mitigate the opioid crisis in the state.

CVS Health Corp previously agreed to settle with Florida for $484 million, while Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Abbvie Inc’s Allergan unit and Endo International Plc agreed to pay a respective $194.8 million, $134.2 million and $65 million.

All denied wrongdoing.

Prior to settling, Walgreens had argued it should be immune from being sued based on a $3,000 settlement it reached with Florida in 2012.

Florida had called Walgreens’ position “absurd,” according to court transcripts, saying the 2012 settlement addressed only a single record-keeping violation.

Pasco County Court Judge Kimberly Sharpe Byrd agreed with Florida, and the trial began while Walgreens appealed her ruling.

The nationwide opioid crisis has led to more than 500,000 overdose deaths in the last two decades, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 3,300 lawsuits have been filed against drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies over the crisis, including claims they played down the risks of addiction and overdoses, and were lax in monitoring where pills ended up.

A distressing police bodycam video shows Deputy Lewis of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office in Florida finding an unconscious couple in a parked car with a neglected infant in the back seat at 3:15 a.m. on Tuesday (October 24, 2017).

The video, shared on the Sheriff’s Office official Facebook page, shows Deputy Lewis waking them by knocking on the windows and confronting them for being unconscious with an open car door and a small child in their car.

In their Facebook post, the Sheriff’s Office mentioned that the young child, approximately 8 months old, began to cry when the parents awoke, and was visibly dirty, appearing not to have been bathed in a while. The infant’s diaper was also saturated in fluids that leaked onto the car seat, pointing to signs of severe neglect.

Lewis found a plastic bag with white residue upon searching the car, “which yielded a presumptive positive for the presence of opiates”, according to the the Facebook account.

The poignant post mentioned that the infant was taken to the Department of Children and Families, and ended by saying, “The opioid epidemic touches innocent lives every day.”

(Production: Aleksandra Michalska)


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