Teva, distributors sidestep Ohio opioid trial with last-minute deal: WSJ

Several companies inked a last-minute settlement to sidestep an opioid trial in Ohio. (Wikipedia / Jeff Kubina)

In recent weeks, as a high-profile bellwether opioid trial neared, Ohio’s Cuyahoga and Summit counties have been settling with drugmakers and distributors on claims their marketing played a role in the local crisis. 

First Endo, then Allergan and Mallinckrodt, and finally J&J inked deals with the two counties, amounting to more than $60 million total. Purdue Pharma, meanwhile, agreed to fork over more than $10 billion to settle not only with those counties, but all of the suits consolidated in Ohio.

Now, with the trial set to open Monday morning, four of the five remaining defendants struck last-minute deals with the counties to avoid the courtroom, according to reports. Distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen joined the deal, along with pharma company Teva, the Wall Street Journal reports

The details weren’t immediately released. Walgreens is now the only remaining defendant, and it was unclear whether Monday's trial would go on as scheduled, according to the newspaper.  

RELATED: J&J, with $20M settlement, becomes latest drugmaker to sidestep bellwether opioid trial 

Still, the deal doesn’t resolve the larger opioid litigation nationally. The Cuyahoga and Summit cases had been selected to go to trial first, but thousands of lawsuits against distributors and drugmakers remain. Purdue's settlement deal hasn't won final approval, either, nor has its founding Sackler family's offer of a $3 billion-plus settlement.

Communities around the country have sued drugmakers alleging they marketed the meds for everyday pain and downplayed addiction risks. They say distributors failed to monitor suspicious orders and flooded communities with millions of pills. Together, the conduct played a role in a national epidemic, the suits say.