Settlements

Cardinal Health sets aside $5.6 billion for opioid lawsuits

A smart phone with the Cardinal Health logo on the screen.
Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Drug distributor Cardinal Health registered a $5.6 billion pre-tax charge in the third quarter, saying the company "agreed in principle to a global settlement" with states, cities and others to pay that amount over 18 years to resolve the opioid cases.

Why it matters: Cardinal is the first company to set aside billions of dollars in preparation for any national opioids settlement, even though a definitive settlement agreement has not been finalized.

A health care settlement parade

Illustration of a gavel's shadow over a medical symbol
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There's still no settlement in the national opioids case, but plenty of other large health care cases have been laid to rest recently.

The bottom line: Allegations of wrongdoing are rampant in health care. For defendants, it's often easier — and in their interest — to settle and eat the result as a cost of doing business.