Oct 21, 2019

Major drug companies reach $260 million settlement in federal opioid trial

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Drug distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, an Israeli-based manufacturer of generic drugs, reached a $260 million settlement on Monday to avoid the first federal opioid trial that was set to begin in Cleveland, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: People familiar with the discussions told the New York Times that a broader settlement to resolve thousands of cases brought by local governments and states could be announced later in the day.

The settlement: McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, agreed to pay Ohio’s Cuyahoga and Summit counties $215 million.

  • Teva will pay the counties $20 million over the next two years and donate $25 million worth of addiction-treatment drugs.
  • The case's fifth defendant, Walgreens Boots Alliance, was not a part of the settlement, and U.S. District Judge Dan Polster postponed its trial.

Context: Almost every state and thousands of local governments have sued pharmaceutical companies for damages caused by the opioid crisis. In total, more than 2,300 opioid lawsuits have been brought in federal court by plaintiffs ranging from local municipalities to Native American tribes.

By the numbers: The WSJ reports that overdoses of legal and illegal opioids have killed at least 400,000 people since 1999.

  • Collectively, McKesson, Cardinal and AmerisourceBergen controlled 95% of the U.S. drug distribution market in 2018 and were among the largest corporations in the country.
  • A coalition of state attorneys general has pushed for a settlement with five drug companies that could be worth as much as $48 billion.

Walgreens was included in the trial for its role as a drug distributor to its own stores, and Teva was included because it produces generic opioid painkillers.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Autopsies say George Floyd's death was homicide

Police watch as demonstrators block a roadway while protesting the death of George Floyd in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd's family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to a statement from the family's attorney.

The latest: An updated official autopsy released by the Hennepin County medical examiner also determined that the manner of Floyd's death was "homicide," ruling it was caused by "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdued, restraint, and neck compression."

The Biden-Trump split screen

Photos via Getty Images: Jim Watson/AFP (L); Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency (R)

The differences between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump are plain as day as the two respond to recent protests.

Why it matters: Americans are seeing firsthand how each presidential nominee responds to a national crisis happening during a global pandemic.

Louisville police chief fired after body cameras found inactive in shooting of black man

Louisville police officers during protests. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer fired the city's chief of police Steve Conrad after it was discovered that police officers had not activated their body cameras during the shooting of David McAtee, a local black business owner who was killed during protests early Monday morning.

Why it matters: Mandatory body camera policies have proven to be important in efforts to hold police officers accountable for excessive force against civilians and other misconduct. Those policies are under even greater scrutiny as the nation has erupted in protest over the killing of black people at the hands of police.