Oct 21, 2019

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 425 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: The start of the end of opioid settlements
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A big drop in a bigger bucket: America's biggest drug distributors have reached a $215 million opioid settlement in Ohio, with a much bigger one expected very soon.

Why it matters: Opioid makers, drug distributors and pharmacies know they will collectively be on the hook for tens of billions of dollars to clean up an epidemic that has killed numerous Americans, Axios' Bob Herman reports. But they likely will deny wrongdoing.

  • The deal would also let them avoid the PR nightmare Johnson & Johnson experienced in Oklahoma.

The big picture: "The deal, which is a combination of cash payouts and donations of addiction treatments, could become a model for a nationwide settlement of thousands of similar cases in state and federal courts," the NYT reports.

  • "The trial, had it gone forward, would have been the first time documents would be presented and witnesses questioned in open court about how drug distributors allegedly contributed to the opioid crisis," the WSJ notes.
  • "The three drug distributors, which serve as middlemen that ship drug orders placed by pharmacies and hospitals, have argued that they complied with federal regulations."

What's next: The defendants are negotiating a global settlement that could be worth nearly $50 billion.

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Xaume Olleros/Getty Images

People watch sheep crossing the city during the Fiesta de la Trashumancia in Madrid, Spain.

  • The festival was started in 1994 to celebrate ancient droving traditions.
2. What you missed
  1. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to cobble together enough support for a coalition within the 28-day time frame to form a government. Go deeper.
  2. President Trump railed against media criticism of his decision — which he has since walked back — to hold next year's G7 summit at his Doral resort in Miami. Video.
  3. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent Pete Buttigieg's 2020 presidential campaign staff recommendations earlier this year. Go deeper.
  4. The social media app TikTok has banned around two dozen accounts for pushing Islamic State propaganda. Go deeper.
  5. The Pentagon is deliberating whether to station a “residual force” of U.S. soldiers in cities in eastern Syria to defend oil fields. Go deeper.
3. 1 fun thing

Photo: Axios on HBO

Mitt Romney is a Twitter lurker, the senator admitted to me during our "Axios on HBO" interview and scooped last night by Slate's Ashley Feinberg.

  • "I'm embarrassed to be called a lurker. I've been called a lot of things, but being called a lurker is a new low," Romney told "Axios on HBO" when I asked about his secret account.
  • "Pierre Delecto" wasn't exactly prolific, but the senator confirmed to The Atlantic's McKay Coppins last night that he runs the account.