With clock ticking before bellwether trial, opioid makers consider participating in Purdue settlement: WSJ

When Purdue Pharma inked a multibillion-dollar opioid settlement last month, market watchers thought it’d ramp up pressure on other opioid makers to reach their own deals. But now Johnson & Johnson, Endo, Teva, Allergan and Mallinckrodt are exploring whether they can use Purdue’s deal to resolve their own legal liabilities, The Wall Street Journal reports.  

Lawyers for the companies are seeing whether they can participate in Purdue’s deal by contributing money into a trust in exchange for a release from liability from the complex web of opioid lawsuits from cities, counties and states around the U.S. The development comes as the first bellwether opioid trial approaches later this month; several companies have inked small lawsuits to avoid that trial. 

Purdue itself has reached a settlement with thousands of cities and counties—plus dozens of state attorneys general—under which it'll declare bankruptcy and establish a public trust so that the company’s resources can benefit the public going forward. The deal is valued at $10 billion to $12 billion, comprising a $3 billion cash contribution from the Sackler family, plus proceeds from ongoing drug sales and drug donations.

Now, other drug companies are exploring participating in the deal by contributing funds to the trust without declaring bankruptcy themselves, WSJ reports. At this point, it’s just an idea, and lawyers haven’t discussed dollar figures, according to the newspaper. 

Purdue and the Sacklers would have to approve, as well as attorneys general, attorneys representing city and county plaintiffs and the judge involved in Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings, the newspaper reports.

RELATED: Purdue inks multibillion-dollar opioid deal with thousands of local governments, more than 20 states: reports 

Still, Purdue’s proposed settlement is no sure thing. The proposal faces opposition from about half of attorneys general and others. Meanwhile, Purdue has entered bankruptcy and the Sackler family recently sold its share in a ski resort company, according to Bloomberg.

Opioid drugmakers face thousands of lawsuits, grouped up in Cleveland, alleging they oversold opioid benefits and downplayed the risks. More than 40 states have sued as well. The first trial is set for later this month, and some companies have inked small settlements with two Ohio counties to sidestep it.