Opioid Industry Pushes for Settlement 10/17 06:16

Opioid Industry Pushes for Settlement  10/17 06:16

   CLEVELAND (AP) -- With a trial looming, major drug distributors and 
manufacturers are pressing to settle thousands of claims against them related 
to the nation's persistent opioid crisis.

   The companies are negotiating with state attorneys general as jury selection 
is expected to wrap up on Thursday in the first federal trial over an overdose 
epidemic that has claimed more than 400,000 American lives in the past two 
decades. Arguments are scheduled to begin Monday against some of the biggest 
names in the pharmaceutical industry unless they can strike a deal.

   A source familiar with the negotiations described the outlines of a 
tentative nationwide settlement as worth tens of billions of dollars. The talks 
involve the distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, as 
well as drug makers Johnson & Johnson and Teva.

   Under the proposed terms, which could change, the three distributors would 
pay a total of $18 billion over 18 years, Johnson & Johnson would chip in $4 
billion over time, and Teva would contribute an estimated $15 billion worth of 
overdose antidotes and treatment drugs.

   Another $14 billion would come from distribution of those drugs, based on 
calculations of how much a distributor could charge for them.

   The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity 
because the talks were continuing. Samantha Fisher, a spokeswoman for the 
Tennessee attorney general's office, confirmed a $50 billion settlement 
framework that was first reported by The New York Times.

   If a tentative settlement is reached in the days ahead, it would need 
sign-off by the states and local governments that have sued numerous players in 
the opioid industry. Perhaps the most well-known of those, Purdue Pharma, was 
taken out of the consolidated federal lawsuits after it filed last month for 
bankruptcy protection.

   The litigation is being overseen by a U.S. District Court judge in 
Cleveland, who is moving ahead with an initial trial that involves Ohio's 
Cuyahoga and Summit counties. They claim the companies engaged in a conspiracy 
that has ravaged their communities, while the companies say they complied with 
the law and supplied only drugs that doctors prescribed.

   Several companies, including Johnson & Johnson, have already reached 
settlements with the two counties and have been removed from the trial. If the 
three distributors and two manufacturers succeed in getting a nationwide 
settlement, it would leave only two defendants in the immediate case: the 
pharmacy chain Walgreens, in its role as a distributor to its own stores; and 
Henry Schein, a small distributor.

   While the case concerns only claims for the two counties, it can pave the 
way for resolving more than 2,000 other lawsuits filed over the opioid crisis.


(KR)

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