Drug companies avert landmark opioid trial with last-minute deal

Oct. 21, 2019

Just days before the first federal trial related to opioids was set to begin, settlement talks with the drug companies being sued collapsed. But at the last minute, four of the companies reached a deal totaling $260 million and avoided heading to court.

The companies include the country’s biggest distributors — McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen Corp., as well as Teva Pharmaceuticals. The last company involved in the suit, Walgreens Boots Alliance, failed to reach a deal, but its trial has been postponed.

The suits, brought by two Ohio counties, was going to serve as a bellwether trial to help inform how the 2,300 pending lawsuits around the country might pan out in a courtroom. Now, because this settlement only pertains to the Ohio cases, the fate of the remaining suits remains up in the air.

The trial would have also set the stage for first-time public testimonies from witnesses describing how distributors contributed to the widespread use of opioids. 

A group of state attorneys general is still working on a multi-billion dollar, comprehensive deal to settle the thousands of remaining lawsuits.

Read the Wall Street Journal report.