US drug companies reach settlement ahead of landmark opioids trial
Three leading drug distributors and an Israeli drugmaker blamed for a deadly opioid addiction epidemic in the United States settled with plaintiffs Monday just hours before they were to go on trial, a federal judge announced.
Narcotics detective Ben Hill, with the Barberton Police Department, shows two bags of medications that are are stored in their headquarters and slated for destruction in Barberton, Ohio on Sept. 11, 2019. [File photo: AP/Keith Srakocic]
The deal is worth $260 million to two Ohio counties at the center of the lawsuit but could spell billions more for 2,700 US communities devastated by addiction and overdose epidemic.
The settlement involved the three leading US drug distributors -- Cardinal Health, Amerisource Bergen, and McKesson Corp and Israel's generic drug manufacturer Teva.
Pharmacy chain Walgreens will continue to go to trial at a later date, said Federal District Judge Dan Polster.
"I want to thank all the lawyers. This would have been a very, very interesting trial to preside over," he told the court.
Although the deal involved only the two Ohio counties, it stands as a possible a bellwether for states, cities, counties and Native American communities around the country. They ultimately could win more than the $18 billion in cash and $30 billion in kind payments that plaintiffs rejected in negotiations Friday.