Ohio counties, 4 drug companies reach $260M settlement in opioid lawsuit

Two counties in Ohio reached a tentative settlement Monday with four drug companies to settle a lawsuit related to the country's opioid crisis. The $260 million deal was struck an hour before opening arguments were scheduled in federal court, The Washington Post reported.

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The deal was struck between Cuyahoga and Summit counties and "Big Three" distributors McKesson Corp,, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals, The Wall Street Journal reported. The sixth defendant in the case, Henry Schein Medical, announced earlier Monday it had reached a settlement worth $1.25 million, the newspaper reported.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, is trying to settle its opioid lawsuits through bankruptcy court, according to The Associated Press.

More than 200,000 people have died from overdoses of prescription narcotics over the past two decades and another 200,000 have died from heroin and fentanyl overdoses, the Post reported, citing federal data.

The Ohio counties will receive $215 million in cash from the drug companies and $20 million from Teva, the Post reported. Teva will also supply another $25 million in anti-addiction medication, the newspaper reported.

The lawsuit by the two counties alleged the distributors did little to monitor the large number of doses that spilled into the black market in northeastern Ohio, the newspaper reported.

The drug companies denied the accusations, contending they provided legitimate medications to patients and were in compliance with Drug Enforcement Administration and Food and Drug Administration rules.

The litigation by the Ohio counties was the first headed to trial from more than 2,300 opioid lawsuits brought in federal court by local cities, hospitals and Native American tribes before U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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