Four defendants have reached a tentative settlement in a landmark opioid trial in Ohio. News of the last-minute deal emerged just hours before the first federal trial on liability for the opioid crisis was set to begin Monday morning.
The deal involves three drug distributors and one drugmaker that are accused of contributing to the opioid crisis that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the U.S. The tentative settlement was first reported by The Wall Street Journal; a source then confirmed the news to NPR.
Teva, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson all reached an agreement in principle to compensate communities hit by the opioid epidemic.
However, this deal only involves two Ohio counties, Summit and Cuyahoga, that were being used as a test case. It doesn’t resolve thousands of other lawsuits filed against the firms around the country.
The Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the National Prescription Opiate Litigation issued a statement about the proposed settlement:
“While this morning’s trial will not begin as scheduled, the federal opioid MDL continues to move forward, as thousands of American communities still have claims against opioid industry defendants.”
Details of the deal haven’t yet been disclosed, but a public official close to the talks who spoke on background said the two counties would receive about $235 million in cash along with a donation of medication that can be used to treat patients addicted to opioids.
A full announcement of the terms is expected later this morning.
This deal follows zero-hour negotiations that continued in secret over the weekend. One defendant in the trial, the pharmacy chain Walgreens, apparently hasn’t agreed to terms of a settlement.
It’s unclear whether any part of this trial will go forward. It’s also not clear how this sudden resolution of local claims in Ohio will affect this federal case’s standing as a test case for opioid litigation around the U.S.