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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The federal opioids litigation took a step closer to resolution yesterday when major drug companies settled with 2 Ohio counties just before a trial was scheduled to begin.

Yes, but: States, municipalities and the companies being sued are still hashing out a global resolution to the thousands of lawsuits pending across the country.

Between the lines: "Monday's settlement, lawyers involved say, can't be directly extrapolated into what a larger deal might look like, since the pressure of an imminent trial often leads to larger payouts," the Wall Street Journal's Sara Randazzo reports.

Driving the news: Drug distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen — along with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries — announced a $260 million settlement yesterday with the 2 counties.

Some state attorneys general announced yesterday afternoon that they had reached a $48 billion settlement "agreement in principle" with the distributors, Teva and Johnson & Johnson, and were hopeful that other states will join the agreement.

  • As Axios' Bob Herman points out, the $48 billion settlement is tentative and does not yet include a host of other states, counties and Native American tribes. It also does not include Purdue Pharma, which is working separately through its bankruptcy process, nor does it include other defendants.
  • And in a bad omen for its future, the lawyers representing city and county governments panned the proposal: "This appears to be the same proposal that 17 municipalities rejected on Friday and we don't see that changing," they said in a statement.

The bottom line: Opioid companies have avoided trials that would have pried open sensitive documents about their roles in the painkiller crisis. But the settlement talks are still far from over.

Go deeper

Updated 14 mins ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

The latest: The president called Doocy Monday evening, the reporter told Fox's Sean Hannity. "He cleared the air and I appreciated it. We had a nice call," Doocy said when asked whether the president apologized, adding: "I don't need anyone to apologize to me."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker