Walgreens distances itself from other opioid trial defendants

Four drug companies reach legal settlement for role in opioid addiction epidemic

Four large drug companies could resume talks on Tuesday to try to reach a $48 billion settlement of all opioid litigation against them, after agreeing with two OH counties to a $260 million deal to avert the first federal trial over their role in the usa opioid epidemic.

A fifth defendant, Walgreens Boots Alliance, hadn't yet reached a deal Monday morning.

Shares in the companies had risen last week in anticipation of a broader deal.

Although the tentative settlement reached Monday of a federal opioid crisis lawsuit stopped short of a global agreement, it triggered growing optimism that communities devastated by drug abuse and overdose deaths may soon see relief.

The trial was scheduled to pit two OH counties against the five companies that the local governments say helped drive a nationwide crisis. "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", they said. Some 400,000 United States overdose deaths between 1997 and 2017 were linked to opioids, according to government data.

The proceedings brought by OH counties Cuyahoga and Summit to a federal trial in Cleveland were expected to pave the way for the many remaining claims, and may now open the door to a wider agreement.

Three of the defendants - AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson - issued a joint statement saying the MDL settlement does not mean they are at fault.

Talks for a broader $48 billion package for all the plaintiffs broke down Friday amid differences between some states and smaller communities over the total value and how the money would be distributed. Under a global settlement, they would pay $18 billion and provide $2.5 billion in free distribution and about $500 million to create a clearing house to monitor for opioid abuse. "This should be a global settlement, but it's got to be fair and it's got to be now". Teva agreed to pay $20 million over three years and to donate $25 million in anti-addiction medication.

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Opening statements had been scheduled to start Monday.

Summit and Cuyahoga counties have reached earlier settlements worth more than $66m with firms that include Johnson & Johnson and Allergan.

U.S. data released for the trial shows that 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills - two powerful and addictive painkillers - where shipped to USA pharmacies from 2006 to 2012.

Walgreens said in a statement on Monday that it only sold opioids to fill a valid prescription written by a licensed physician.

Family and friends who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opioid overdoses protest outside Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, August 17, 2018.

Teva maintained it didn't market the drugs and was just meeting the demand of prescriptions filled out by doctors - and that it didn't produce more opioids than authorities allowed. They say they did not cause the awful toll the epidemic has had on states and localities.

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. Henry Schein Medical, a NY-based pharmaceutical company and another defendant in the case, reached a separate $1.25 million agreement with the counties, and according to the Washington Post, Walgreens' case has been postponed.

J&J agreed to resolve the OH counties' case for $20.4 million.

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