Four companies reach opioid settlement in Ohio

Henrietta Strickland
October 22, 2019

Lawyer for the counties Hunter Shklonik said Teva is paying $US20 million ($29 million) in cash and will contribute $US25 million ($36 million) worth of Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment.

The five companies were the last left for the trial after several other drug makers settled with the two counties in recent weeks.

Cardinal Health's corporate office in Dublin, Ohio, is pictured above.

According to the agreement, McKesson, Cardinal and Amerisource Bergen must all take "aggressive internal action, including conducting data aggregation and review" in order to prevent over-distribution going forward, and are tasked with "conducting due diligence on pharmacies to prevent pill mills, and training delivery drivers to identify and report potential pill mills". The drug distributor was among four companies that agreed to a settlement in the opioid crisis that has led to 400,000 overdose deaths since 1999.

The trial was scheduled to pit two OH counties against the five companies that the local governments say helped drive a nationwide crisis.

Across the country, the drug industry is facing more than 2,600 lawsuits brought by state and local governments seeking to hold it accountable for the crisis that has been linked to more than 400,000 deaths in the USA over the past two decades.

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

The report said the settlement only covered the two OH counties acting as plaintiffs in the so-called bellwether or test trial.

The talks were aimed at reaching a broader $US48 billion ($70 billion) settlement covering thousands of lawsuits filed by counties, towns and states from across the country over the crisis. A federal judge in OH has been pushing the parties toward a settlement of all the lawsuits for almost two years.

Separately, the small distributor Henry Schein also announced Monday that it is settling with Summit County for $1.25 million.

Friday's settlement talks broke down in part because of tension between state attorneys general, whose cases are not before Polster, and the local government cases consolidated in Cleveland.

The lawsuits also alleged that drugmakers improperly marketed opioids to prescribers, overselling the benefits and understating the risks of a class of drugs that has been known for centuries to be addictive.

McKesson, Cardinal, and AmerisourceBergen, which were suspected of failing to fully comply with their legal requirements to report suspicious drug orders from pharmacies, are required to develop independent clearinghouses to "aggregate data" for the goal of identifying where their products are being sent and at what rate they are being distributed.

Drugmakers have denied wrongdoing, arguing their products carried US Food and Drug Administration-approved labels that warned of the addictive risks of opioids. But half the states and hundreds of local governments oppose it.

Distributors have said that they made up only "one component of the pharmaceutical supply chain" and their role was to make sure medicines prescribed by licensed doctors were available for patients.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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