Three of the country’s biggest drug distributors and one drug manufacturer have agreed to a $260 million settlement for their part in the opioid epidemic.
McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. will pay a combined $215 million while manufacturer Teva Pharmaceutical Industries will pay $20 million and provide $25 million worth of the anti-overdose drug Suboxone.
The trial involved just two counties in Ohio, Cuyahoga County in Cleveland and Summit Country in Akron.
“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 plaintiffs’ attorneys said in a joint statement Monday. They went on to say, “Throughout this process, Summit and Cuyahoga Counties have tirelessly investigated, litigated, and prepared for the bellwether trial that would have begun today if not for this agreement. In doing so, the communities revealed facts about the roles of the opioid industry that created and fueled the opioid epidemic.”
The counties stated that they have plans to file a lawsuit against Walgreens and mentioned that further litigation against the drug companies is possible.
“We learned that this country’s pharmacy system has played a greater role in the opioid epidemic than previously realized,” the attorneys said. “Cuyahoga and Summit will continue to litigate against pharmacy defendants to further understand the industry’s failings and potential wrongdoing.”
“People can’t lose sight of the fact that the counties got a very good deal for themselves, but we also set an important national benchmark for the others,” Hunter Shkolnik, a lawyer for Cuyahoga County, said.
The drug distributors made a joint statement that they will continue to work on a global statement.
They said, “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 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.”