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Walgreens settles with Florida in opioid case for $683 million

 Moody says the opioid settlement money will go toward treatment and prevention in communities hit hardest by drug abuse.
Office of the Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody
Moody says the opioid settlement money will go toward treatment and prevention in communities hit hardest by drug abuse.

Walgreens was the 12th and final defendant in the state's legal battle against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmaceutical companies it holds responsible for the epidemic.

Walgreens has settled with Florida in a lawsuit that accused the pharmacy chain of fueling the opioid crisis, Attorney General Ashley Moody announced on Thursday.

The suit that wrapped up in Pasco County also concludes several years’ of state litigation against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmaceutical companies.

Walgreens agreed to pay the state $683 million, most of which will be paid out over the next two decades, with a smaller portion going toward legal fees. The funds bring the total Florida has collected from opioid lawsuits to more than $3 billion.

“This has been a long hard fought battle to get where we are today and to be in a position to announce such monumental news,” Moody said at a press conference in Tampa. “While we are making this announcement today locally, the result of this historic settlement of funds will have far reaching effects across this state and beyond the Tampa Bay region.”

The state will prioritize communities hit hardest by the crisis and spend the money on treatment and prevention.

The trial with Walgreens lasted four weeks and centered on accusations that Walgreens dispensed billions of opioid pills from 2006 to 2021 that contained red flags for fraud or abuse.

The company released a statement that said the settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing or liability.

“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 vice president and global chief legal officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. “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.”

Florida is the first state in the nation to successfully finish legal battles against companies it holds responsible for the epidemic, according to Moody, who added there is still more work to do. The latest estimates, she said, show Florida loses about 21 lives a day to opioid abuse.

“With these funds Florida goes on offense to stop addiction and save lives,” Moody said. “We now go into battle armed and ready to fight back hard against this manmade crisis. And we do it in unison with the more than 200 cities and counties that have stepped up to support and benefit from our litigation efforts.”

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Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters, WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.