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What Does Walgreens’ $683M Opioid Settlement Mean for People in Florida Struggling with Addiction

Walgreens Opioid Settlement in Florida

Walgreens reaches a $683 million opioid settlement with the state of Florida. This settlement includes $620 million paid to Florida over the course of 18 years as well as $63 million for attorney fees. This opioid lawsuit was initially meant to resolve claims that the pharmacy chains had a role to play in the opioid epidemic that has been devastating the state over the last several decades. Walgreens Boots Alliance did not join the original group of opioid litigation lawsuits but eventually decided to settle Florida opioid claims as of this year. 

Opioid Pills in Florida

In the 1990s, healthcare providers began prescribing opioid pain relievers after reassuring medical professionals that patients would not become addicted to the medications. After a spike in opioid related overdoses, it took years for the public and the medical community to understand that prescription opioid pain relievers, not street drugs, were a huge contribution to these overdoses and the nationwide opioid crisis. The careless practice of prescribing opioid medications for pain was also largely responsible for millions of individuals to fall into addiction, including minors and those who were not considered “at risk”.  

Although the number of opioid related deaths have been steadily increasing since 2000, nationwide attention was not caught until it was discovered that the opioid crisis has led to a dramatic increase of 2,175 deaths in 2014 to 4,576 deaths in 2016. This finally called health and public officials everywhere into action, especially in Florida. 

In 2017, the Florida governor and state surgeon general implemented a statewide public health emergency due to the growing opioid crisis. It has been reported that drug overdose deaths have continued to rise, tripling since 2016 with the introduction of synthetic heroin, fentanyl. Florida legislature passed House Bill 249 the same year as announcing the public health emergency, requiring the reporting of controlled substance overdoses in an attempt to gain control over these numbers and take steps to lower them significantly. A large part of the solution has been for action to be taken by Florida to resolve claims that healthcare companies should be held responsible so settlement funds can be allocated towards prevention, substance abuse treatment, and recovery services, resulting in these large settlements with Florida. 

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Healthcare Companies Responsible for Opioid Epidemic 

For many years, the responsibility of opioid related overdose was placed on street drugs like heroin when in fact opioid pain relievers like hydrocodone and oxycontin have been responsible for over 40% of addiction and overdose related deaths in the last 5 years and climbing. 

States across the country have sought retribution in legal cases against distributors and pharmacies according to the role they play in overdose deaths. Settlements claim that these companies have a responsibility to make consumers aware of the risks of addiction and overdose but instead they have been playing down the dangers. They have also been accused of being lax about distribution policies and as a result, opioid and synthetic opioid products such as fentanyl are ending up in places they were never intended to.  

The state of Florida has recovered a combined amount of a $878 million settlement from CVS Health, Teva, Abbvie, Allergan, and Endo. Walgreens Pharmacy decided not to join this particular opioid lawsuit when it was brought against these pharmacy chains in 2011. While these settlements do not require any of these companies, including the Walgreens store, to admit to any wrongdoing, the public views this opioid settlement with Florida that they have agreed to pay as the states holding drugmakers, distributors, and pharmacies accountable for their role in contributing to the opioid epidemic.  

The Critical Role of Walgreens’ Settlement

The damage of the opioid crisis in Florida cannot be undone but the funds from these settlements as well as what Walgreens decided to contribute will help Floridians combat the continued devastating effects. The settlement funding will be used help Florida to resolve the opioid crisis by expanding treatment options and available facilities for opioid addictions as well as provide care directly through the use of provider organizations that treat individuals with substance abuse disorders. There will also be a focus on making therapy services accessible through teletherapy so those struggling with addiction will have access to the most suitable therapy option based on their demographic background. 

If you’re struggling with any type of substance abuse, call us today at (833) 720-0708 for more information about recovery options.

Get Started at Serenity Oaks

At Serenity Oaks Wellness Center, we offer residential detox and addiction treatment with a wide range of modalities to address the needs of all our clients. Our high staff-to-client ratio ensures everyone that enters our facility gets the personal attention they need and deserve for a safe and successful detox process. To learn more about our program, contact Serenity Oaks Wellness Center today at 844-720-6847.
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