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San Francisco finalizes landmark $267M opioid settlement

Three companies agreed to pay the settlement fees for a 2018 lawsuit, with Walgreens taking the largest share at a whopping $229.6 million. | Source: Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

In a landmark settlement agreement, two major pharmaceutical companies and a retailer will pay San Francisco over $267 million in the next 15 years to resolve allegations of their complicity in fueling the city's opioid crisis. 

On Tuesday, the city's Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a settlement agreement between the city and county of San Francisco and Walgreens, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergan Finance.  

The three companies agreed to pay a collective $267 million in settlement fees for a 2018 lawsuit, with Walgreens taking the largest share at a whopping $229.6 million.

READ MORE: San Francisco Wins Landmark Opioid Trial Against Walgreens

The lawsuit alleged these companies violated the unfair competition law by falsely and misleadingly marketing opioids as safer than they actually were, and by distributing large quantities of opioids in the city "despite knowledge of the growing epidemic," reads the ordinance. 

Each of the three settlement agreements mandates a special fund where the proceeds will be deposited, and each will have slightly different eligible use requirements, City Controller Ben Rosenfield said. He added that the city expects to receive much larger payments in the early years of the settlement.  

Supervisor Dean Preston said the funds will help the city address the opioid crisis in the short- and long-term, and urged city administration to ensure transparency in their use. 

"While this is certainly not a crisis that exists only in San Francisco," Preston said during the meeting, "I think we all know that one does not have to travel very far from this building to see some of its devastating effects."