CLEVELAND—Four drug companies have reached a settlement at the last minute to avoid a trial here seeking to blame them for fueling the opioid crisis, according to people familiar with the matter.
Details of the settlements with
Cardinal Health Inc.,
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
will be announced Monday morning, the people said.
A fifth defendant,
Walgreens Boots Alliance,
hadn’t yet reached a deal Monday morning. It wasn’t clear if Monday’s trial would proceed with Walgreens as the only defendant.
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
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 five companies were the last left for the trial after several other drug makers 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.
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