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Report: Teva, McKesson, others reach settlement before federal opioid trial

Four drug companies, including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and McKesson Corp., reached a last-minute settlement with two Ohio counties to avoid a federal trial related to their alleged role in the U.S. opioid crisis, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Details of the settlement — reached by Teva, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc., — will be announced later. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., the fifth defendant in the pending trial, however, was not included in the settlement and the report did not say whether the trial will proceed with just the pharmacy company as the sole defendant. The trial was expected to begin Oct. 21.

The deal with the two Ohio counties — Cuyahoga and Summit — put off the trial for the four companies but falls short of a comprehensive settlement to resolve thousands of opioid lawsuits spread across the country, the report said. The drug industry is facing about 2,600 lawsuits for allegedly fueling the U.S. opioid crisis, which kills more than 130 people every day.

Reuters reported on Oct. 18 that the companies and local governments had failed to reach a settlement in the Ohio trial being overseen by Judge Dan Polster. The judge had summoned the CEOs of the four companies for a meeting on Oct. 18 to potentially finalize the proposed settlements. The trial was expected to proceed until the last minute settlement was reported.

Drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson previously offered to pay $18 billion in cash over 18 years to settle the lawsuits, while Teva proposed a package valued at around $28 billion over 10 years.

Meanwhile, drug distributor Henry Schein Inc. said that the company will be dismissed with prejudice as a defendant in the opioid lawsuit involving Summit County.

Henry Schein Chairman and CEO Stanley Bergman said the company will make a $1 million donation to establish an educational foundation with the county to develop best practices for the proper use and prescription of opioids. The company will also pay $250,000 of Summit County's expenses.