Suing Opioid Manufacturers and Pharmacies for Causing an Opioid Crisis

Working with the Department of Public Health, the County sued several opioid manufacturers (Purdue, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, Teva, Allergan, and Endo), alleging that they concealed the addictive dangers of opioid medications from doctors and patients, leading to a substantial increase in addiction, overdose hospitalizations, and deaths.  Each year in the County, there are hundreds of deaths caused by overdoses of fentanyl and other prescription opioids.  County Counsel partnered on the case with counsel for Santa Clara County, Orange County, and the City of Oakland, and it was one of the first cases in the country to go to trial.

While the case was pending, the County joined national settlements against manufacturer Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (“J&J Settlement”), and with opioid distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen (“Distributor Settlement”) (collectively the “National Settlements”).  The County will receive approximately $50 million over 9 years from the J&J Settlement and will receive approximately $200 million over 18 years from the Distributor Settlement.  The vast majority of the funds will be used to address the opioid crisis, including helping to treat substance use disorders.

In 2022, the County sued three pharmacy chains, CVS, Rite Aid/Thrifty, and Walgreens, for their alleged role in the opioid crisis in the County. These pharmacies were alleged to have the largest shares of the opioid market in the County and the largest number of pharmacies in the County.  The County joined the opioid national settlements with CVS, Walgreens, Allergan, Teva, and Walmart and anticipates receiving a total of approximately $85 million paid over several years from these settlements.

*Although the defendants settled this lawsuit, they did not admit liability; nor did they admit the allegations of the County’s complaint