As the closely-watched opioid litigation in Ohio nears its first trial, Endo has struck a $10 million settlement and Allergan is said to be nearing its own deal.
Endo unveiled a $10 million agreement Tuesday that would resolve lawsuits from Ohio's Cuyahoga and Summit counties. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports Allergan is negotiating a $5 million deal with the same counties.
The two counties' claims were chosen for a bellwether trial in the national opioid litigation consolidated in Cleveland. The settlements would thus cover just a sliver of the many thousands of claims pending in court.
Endo's settlement would allow it to bow out of the October trial entirely. Allergan’s deal would not, the Journal reports. It would cover only allegations about Allergan's branded drugs, and the company could face other claims at trial.
The two drugmakers and fellow opioid makers face thousands of lawsuits alleging they oversold opioids' benefits for treating chronic pain and downplayed their risks. Distributors also face claims that they didn’t monitor suspicious orders. Together, the conduct helped create a national opioid and addiction crisis, plaintiffs say.
If Endo and Allergan finalize deals to settle the lawsuits, they'd still have to battle claims from other plaintiffs, which include states, cities and counties from around the U.S. Endo's agreement won't be official until it's approved by the court.
Endo investors celebrated the news; the company's share prices jumped about 26% Tuesday morning.
As of the end of July, Endo faced lawsuits from 18 states and about 2,300 cities, counties, Native American tribes and other government entities, the company said in an SEC filing (PDF). Between the opioid lawsuits and separate price-fixing allegations, analysts at RBC Capital Markets expect Endo to be on the hook for $2.1 billion.
Allergan, which is merging with AbbVie in a $63 billion deal, faces about 2,000 opioid lawsuits, according to an SEC filing (PDF).
The latest settlement amounts pale in comparison to opioid settlements reached by Teva and Purdue in Oklahoma’s lawsuit against opioid drugmakers. Purdue struck a $270 million deal to resolve the state’s claims, while Teva agreed to pay $85 million. Johnson & Johnson fought the state’s claims at trial, and a decision in that case is expected next week.
As the complex multidistrict litigation proceeds in Cleveland’s federal court, plaintiffs have proposed a novel “negotiating class” to help the sides reach a deal. States and plaintiffs have opposed the deal, but Judge Dan Polster, who’s overseeing the litigation, has signaled support for the approach.