Endo's $10M opioid deal could help other drugmakers 'out of the woods': analysts

People shaking hands across a desk that has computer and papers on it
Endo's $10 million settlement in Ohio could be a positive sign for other opioid makers under the gun. (Pixabay)

Endo’s $10 million opioid deal with two Ohio counties Tuesday may have appeared small in scope to some, but could the bellwether agreement spell a sigh of relief for the industry on the whole? Investors and analysts seem to think so.

On the heels of Endo’s settlement, Israeli drugmaker Teva traded up 7% on Tuesday as hopes for a similarly modest deal boosted the mood of investors. After all, the company recently struck a bigger deal—$85 million—to settle with the state of Oklahoma and avoid that courtroom.

And it’s not only investors painting a rosy picture: Analysts said Endo’s settlement could forecast a much lower dollar figure for other opioid suits—including a massive multidistrict litigation in Cleveland—and provide a sliver of hope for drugmakers under threat of bankruptcy.

According to SVB Leerink analyst Ami Fadia, Endo’s own two-county settlement could project out to a total $1.8 billion global deal for the Ireland-based drugmaker, which faces lawsuits from 18 states and 2,300 cities and counties.

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That’s a far cry from SVB Leerink’s previous forecast of around $4 billion.

And Endo and Teva, of course, are among a bevy of opioid makers facing thousands of federal, state and local lawsuits for its opioid marketing. The good news could carry over to both Mylan and Amneal, which might see settlements more than 50% lower than SVB Leerink’s previous estimate, Fadia said.

Cantor analyst Louise Chen backed up SVB Leerink’s forecast in a Tuesday note to investors, saying the Endo settlement represented a move “out of the woods” for drugmakers.

Fadia’s forecast, however, is less clear for Mallinckrodt and Teva due to uncertainty over whether a global settlement would allocate damages based on the volume of opioids sold or the sales figures each company reached. Endo’s two county lawsuits, Fadia noted, are just one indicator of the Cleveland litigation’s path, and dozens of state attorneys general lawsuits could throw a wrench in the forecast when they go up for trial in 2020.

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The only AG suit currently on trial is in Oklahoma, where Johnson & Johnson has been called a “kingpin” for its role in pushing the state’s opioid epidemic. Once seen as a bellwether for the multidistrict litigation, a negative J&J decision might now represent a one-off given the “unique circumstances” of the trial, Fadia figures.

“We believe the upside from a positive ruling of [J&J] would be a significant positive,” Fadia wrote. “We've held the position that a public nuisance claim for opioids lies on shaky ground, and should this not pass in [Oklahoma], it would provide us with greater confidence that public nuisance would not be used as an argument in other state cases, and especially in the [multidistrict litigation].”

A ruling in the J&J trial is expected within two weeks, Fadia said.

That could also throw the meaning of Teva’s $85 million Oklahoma settlement into question after the drugmaker complained it was given little time to prepare for court with an expedited discovery period, limited manufacturer defendants and no generic pre-emption.