A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that Walgreens is guilty of contributing to the opioid crisis by over-dispensing the drugs for years.
In his ruling, US District Judge Charles Breyer said the pharmacy chain did not take "reasonable steps to prevent the drugs from being diverted and harming the public."
San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said Walgreens failed to track the prescriptions and prevented pharmacists from properly vetting them.
"Pharmacists were pressured to fill, fill, fill," he said, "and as a result, Walgreens filled our streets with opioids."
"This decision gives voice to the thousands of lives lost to the opioid epidemic," Chiu said in a prepared statement cited by CBS News Bay Area. "This crisis did not come out of nowhere. It was created by the opioid industry, and local jurisdictions like San Francisco have had to shoulder the burden for far too long. We are grateful the Court heard our arguments and held Walgreens responsible for the damage they caused."
Walgreens spokesman Fraser Engermen said the chain is disappointed in the ruling and says it was not supported by facts.
"As we have said throughout this process, we never manufactured or marketed opioids, nor did we distribute them to the 'pill mills' and internet pharmacies that fueled this crisis...The plaintiff's attempt to resolve the opioid crisis with an unprecedented expansion of public nuisance law is misguided and unsustainable. We look forward to the opportunity to address these issues on appeal."