Hours before the first federal trial in the opioid epidemic was set to begin, four pharmaceutical companies reached a settlement totaling $260 million.
The four companies – McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. – reached a settlement Monday morning with the two plaintiffs, Summit and Cuyahoga counties in Ohio.
McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. will pay out a combined $215 million immediately, and Teva Pharmaceutical will pay $20 million, officials said at a press conference Monday.
Teva will also be donating $25 million worth of Suboxone, according a source familiar with the settlement.
The settlement was struck between midnight and 1 a.m. Monday, and the case was dismissed with prejudice, US District Court Judge Dan Polster said.
The defendants were supposed to appear in a Cleveland court Monday in the first federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) trial involving the opioid epidemic. Thousands more plaintiffs’ cases are awaiting trial.
MDL is similar to class-action lawsuits in the sense that both consolidate plaintiffs’ pretrial proceedings for the sake of efficiency. But unlike with class-action lawsuits, each plaintiff in an MDL case can get a different verdict or award.
The plaintiffs in this MDL case – Summit and Cuyahoga counties – were the first among more than 2,700 plaintiff communities to head to trial.
Three of the defendants – AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson – issued a joint statement saying the settlement does not mean they are at fault.
“While the companies strongly dispute the allegations made by the two counties, they believe settling the bellwether trial is an important stepping stone to achieving a global resolution and delivering meaningful relief,” the joint statement said.
“The companies expect settlement funds to be used in support of initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic, including treatment, rehabilitation, mental health and other important efforts. The distributors remain deeply concerned about the impact the opioid epidemic is having on families and communities across the nation – and are committed to being part of the solution.”
The money will go towards treatment
Attorneys general from four states – North Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Texas – lauded Monday’s settlement as “an important step” in combating the opioid epidemic.
“People in every corner of the country have been hurt by this crisis, and it is critical that settlement funds be distributed fairly across states, cities, and counties and used wisely to combat the crisis,” the attorneys general said in a joint statement.
“The global resolution we are working to finalize will accomplish those goals while also ensuring that these companies change their business practices to prevent a public health crisis like this from ever happening again.”