What Ohio Opioid Dispute Resolution Means for Other Lawsuits
Two Ohio counties planned to sue a group of companies for their role in the opioid epidemic, but the parties reached a $ 260 million settlement at the last minute. Here’s what this means for participating counties and companies, and the possibility of other claims in the future.
Who was involved in the lawsuit?
This particular lawsuit involved two Ohio counties, Cuyahoga and Summit, which sued a group of companies: drug distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and a generic manufacturer called Teva Pharmaceuticals. Walgreens was initially involved in the lawsuit, but did not participate in the settlement. (Walgreens is considered both a drug distributor and a pharmacy.)
More than 2,000 local, tribal and state governments intend to sue various companies due to the opioid epidemic, so the panel of judges decided to collect all the claims into a kind of package that will be monitored by one judge. This should have been the first of these. (NPR has a good explanation of how the mega litigation is supposed to work, and what has happened so far.)
Shortly before the Ohio case went to court, the counties and companies came to an amicable settlement. The companies have not officially admitted to wrongdoing.
The counties planned to argue that the companies knew that large quantities of opioids were entering the black market and that they had not done enough to stop the flow. As a result, they said, there was a “public inconvenience” that threatened citizens. They planned to claim $ 8.2 billion in damages, although the actual amount would depend on the outcome of the trial.
Where does the settlement money go?
The three distributors will jointly donate $ 215 million to the two Ohio counties. Teva Pharmaceuticals will provide counties with $ 20 million over two years, plus another $ 25 million for addiction drugs.
County prosecutors have hinted that the money will go towards drug addiction treatment and first aid. Cleveland.com previously reported that money from another recent opioid settlement would go towards things like opioid treatment programs, foster care of children who fall into county custody for reasons related to the opioid epidemic, and adding staff to the medical examiner’s office. …
It is possible that some other pending claims will be settled in a similar manner. Whether this is good news or not depends on how you ask. Teva Pharmaceuticals shares rose following the announcement of the settlement , suggesting that this is good news for the company.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a group of state attorneys general are hoping future settlements will total $ 18 billion , but some local governments fear the money will not reach the people who need it. “Municipalities say they want to avoid the outcome of the tobacco litigation of the 1990s, in which states paid $ 206 billion and was often spent filling budget holes. City and county officials say any wider community must act immediately to mitigate the effects of opioid addiction that characterized the Ohio deal on Monday.