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US judge summons CEOs of Teva, McKesson, others to discuss opioid settlements

A U.S. District Judge in Cleveland has summoned the CEOs of four companies, including McKesson Corp., and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., to potentially finalize proposed multi-billion settlements in ongoing opioid lawsuits in the U.S., Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

It is unclear whether McKesson CEO Brian Tyler, Teva CEO Kare Schultz, Cardinal Health Inc. CEO Michael Kaufmann and AmerisourceBergen Corp. CEO Steven Collis would be making the trip Oct. 18 to meet judge Dan Polster, who is overseeing the landmark trial scheduled for Oct. 21.

Stefano Pessina, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., which is the fifth defendant company in the trial, was not summoned by the judge as the drug retail company has not shown interest in settling, said the report.

Polster's involvement in overseeing the cases has been questioned in the past by lawyers of drug distributors and retailers but not necessarily by drug manufacturers. Lawyers had previously filed a petition seeking the removal of Polster from the trial — questioning his impartiality given he has consistently urged both sides to settle the case, The Washington Post reported in September.

The drug industry is facing about 2,600 lawsuits for allegedly fueling the U.S. opioid crisis, an epidemic that kills more than 130 people every day.

While drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson have offered to pay $18 billion in cash over 18 years to settle the lawsuits, Teva's proposed package's total estimated value is expected to reach $28 billion spread over 10 years.

Johnson & Johnson has already reached a $20.4 million settlement with two Ohio counties, allowing it to skip the trial. The New Brunswick, N.J.-based pharmaceutical giant, however, is offering to pay $4 billion in cash to settle other opioid lawsuits.