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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

Inflation threatens Latinos' buying power

Expand chart
Data: Hispanic Index of Consumer Sentiment; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Latinos in the U.S. are less optimistic about the economy than they were a year ago as inflation threatens to cut into their buying power.

Why it matters: Latinos have been economic growth drivers for the past decade, opening new businesses at faster rates than other groups and increasing their homeownership rates. The group's overall output would make them the seventh-largest GDP in the world if they were a country.

45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

First look: Frontline Dems seek cover with bipartisan police bill

Rep. Josh Gottheimer. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Moderate Frontline Democrats facing tough reelection fights are teaming up with House Republicans on a bill that would effectively help fund the police, according to a copy of the bill text obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: One of Republicans' core and most effective campaign attacks to date is their messaging around progressive rhetoric to "defund the police." Moderate Democrats have long tried to dodge that narrative, acknowledging its political peril despite their support for broader police reform.

Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The U.S. Omicron wave may be peaking, but now COVID deaths are climbing as cases continue to soar in most of the country.

The big picture: Omicron's stranglehold in the U.S. started about a month ago. Its death toll — while almost certain to be smaller than previous waves of the pandemic — is only now starting to take hold, and deaths will likely continue to rise for several weeks.