Connect with us

TOP BREAKING NEWS!

Four Drug Companies Reach Last-Minute Settlement in Opioid Litigation


Financial

Four Drug Companies Reach Last-Minute Settlement in Opioid Litigation

https://www.wsj.com/articles/four-drug-companies-reach-last-minute-settlement-in-opioid-litigation-11571658212?mod=hp_lead_pos1

CLEVELAND—Four drug companies have reached a $260 million settlement at the last minute to avoid a trial here seeking to blame them for fueling the opioid crisis, attorneys said Monday.

The country’s top drug distributors, McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp., agreed to pay $215 million, attorneys said. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., an Israel-based manufacturer of medicine, will pay $20 million in cash over the next two years and donate $25 million in addiction-treatment drugs, attorneys said.

A fifth defendant,

Walgreens Boots Alliance,


WBA -1.79%

didn’t reach a deal. The trial against them will be postponed, the judge said Monday.

The settlements with two Ohio counties put off the federal jury trial for the companies but fall short of a more comprehensive deal currently being negotiated to resolve thousands of opioid lawsuits nationwide.

The cases of Ohio’s Cuyahoga and Summit counties had been selected to go to trial first from more than 2,300 opioid lawsuits brought in federal court by local municipalities, hospitals, Native American tribes and others that are consolidated before U.S. District Judge

Dan Polster

in Cleveland.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Who do you think should bear responsibility for the opioid crisis? Join the conversation below.

The lawsuits broadly allege the pharmaceutical industry pushed opioid painkillers for widespread use without adequately warning of the risks of addiction and allowed high volumes of pills to flood into communities.

“The proposed settlement will make significant progress to abate the epidemic by providing resources for and applying funds directly to necessary opioid-recovery programs,” the lead plaintiff attorneys said in a joint news release.

The five companies were the last left for the trial after several other drugmakers settled with the two counties in recent weeks.

The Ohio trial was expected to be closely watched as a benchmark for how the broader opioid litigation could be resolved. Virtually every state, along with thousands of local governments, have sued the pharmaceutical industry seeking to recover money to help address the impact of the opioid crisis.

At least 400,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses of legal and illegal opioids since 1999, according to federal data.

A couple thousand cities and counties have filed lawsuits over the opioid epidemic, along with almost every state and two territories, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

State/territory hasn’t sued

Chicago was one of the first local governments to file a lawsuit.

The first trial in federal court was set for Cuyahoga and Summit counties in Ohio, which has the nation’s second-highest opioid overdose rate.

West Virginia was the first state to sue distributors, and has the highest opioid-overdose rate in the nation.

Oklahoma was the first state attorney general case to go to trial, in May.

Note: Locations based on lawsuits filed in federal court as of Aug. 14. In cases where a county and a city in the county were filed in the same lawsuit, locations are shown at the county level. Puerto Rico’s municipalities are classified at the county level.

Sources: Pacer (lawsuits); National Institute on Drug Abuse (overdose rates)

Vivien Ngo and Jessica Wang/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

A couple thousand cities and counties have filed lawsuits over the opioid epidemic, along with almost every state and two territories, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

State/territory hasn’t sued

The first trial in federal court was set for Cuyahoga and Summit counties in Ohio, which has the nation’s second-highest opioid overdose rate.

Chicago was one of the first local governments to file a lawsuit.

West Virginia was the first state to sue distributors, and has the highest opioid-overdose rate in the nation.

Oklahoma was the first state attorney general case to go to trial, in May.

Note: Locations based on lawsuits filed in federal court as of Aug. 14. In cases where a county and a city in the county were filed in the same lawsuit, locations are shown at the county level. Puerto Rico’s municipalities are classified at the county level.

Sources: Pacer (lawsuits); National Institute on Drug Abuse (overdose rates)

Vivien Ngo and Jessica Wang/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

A Step-By-Step Blueprint For Making Money Online, That Is 100% Dummy Proof!

GET EASY FREE TRAFFIC + AFFILIATE OFFER = COMMI$$IONS

Get The Simple Traffic Blueprint Now!

A couple thousand cities and counties have filed lawsuits over the opioid epidemic, along with almost every state and two territories, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

State/territory hasn’t sued

Chicago was one of the first local governments to file a lawsuit.

The first trial in federal court was set for Cuyahoga and Summit counties in Ohio, which has the nation’s second-highest opioid overdose rate.

West Virginia was the first state to sue distributors, and has the highest opioid-overdose rate in the nation.

Oklahoma was the first state attorney general case to go to trial, in May.

Note: Locations based on lawsuits filed in federal court as of Aug. 14. In cases where a county and a city in the county were filed in the same lawsuit, locations are shown at the county level. Puerto Rico’s municipalities are classified at the county level.

Sources: Pacer (lawsuits); National Institute on Drug Abuse (overdose rates)

Vivien Ngo and Jessica Wang/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

A couple thousand cities and counties have filed lawsuits over the opioid epidemic, along with almost every state and two territories, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

State/territory hasn’t sued

Chicago was one of the first local governments to file a lawsuit.

The first trial in federal court was set for Cuyahoga and Summit counties in Ohio, which has the nation’s second-highest opioid overdose rate.

West Virginia was the first state to sue distributors, and has the highest opioid-overdose rate in the nation.

Oklahoma was the first state attorney general case to go to trial, in May.

Note: Locations based on lawsuits filed in federal court as of Aug. 14. In cases where a county and a city in the county were filed in the same lawsuit, locations are shown at the county level. Puerto Rico’s municipalities are classified at the county level.

Sources: Pacer (lawsuits); National Institute on Drug Abuse (overdose rates)

Vivien Ngo and Jessica Wang/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The court proceeding was set to be the first time documents would be presented and witnesses questioned in open court about how drug distributors allegedly contributed to the opioid crisis. The companies serve as middlemen that ship drug orders placed by pharmacies, hospitals and others.

An earlier opioid-crisis trial, in Oklahoma, had only drugmaker

Johnson & Johnson

as a defendant, limiting the scope of the narrative unspooled in court.

McKesson, Cardinal and AmerisourceBergen collectively controlled 95% of the U.S. drug distribution market in 2018, according to Drug Channels Institute, which provides research on the drug-supply chain. The three companies are among the largest in the U.S., all ranking in the top 25 of the Fortune 500.

Addiction experts are in wide agreement on the most effective way to help opioid addicts: Medication-assisted treatment. But most inpatient rehab facilities in the U.S. don’t offer this option. WSJ’s Jason Bellini reports on why the medication option is controversial, and in many places, hard to come by. Image: Ryno Eksteen and Thomas Williams

The distributors have argued that their role is to ensure medicines prescribed by licensed doctors are delivered to patients who need them. They say they must balance their mission to deliver medicine against efforts to prevent and detect illegal diversion of those drugs.

Walgreens, widely known as a pharmacy, has been included in the trial for its role as a drug distributor to its own stores.

Teva and its subsidiaries make generic opioid painkillers and two branded drugs used for cancer pain. The company has argued that it doesn’t market its generic opioids.

The deals come as a coalition of state attorneys general has been pushing for a comprehensive settlement with five drug companies that by some accounts could be worth as much as $48 billion.

Lawyers for cities and counties have balked at the proposal, which includes $18 billion to be paid over 18 years from AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal and McKesson; $4 billion from Johnson & Johnson over a shorter time frame; and the donation of drugs from Teva and distribution services valued at as high as $28 billion.

The local governments say that the money doesn’t come fast enough to help them address the ramifications of the opioid crisis and that too much of the funds would be controlled at the state level.

“I’m dedicated to going back to the table as soon as I get some sleep, to see if progress can be made,” said

Joe Rice,

one of the lead plaintiff attorneys.

Write to Sara Randazzo at sara.randazzo@wsj.com

Copyright ©2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Free Gift With Our Newsletter

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top Stories!

To Top