Last-minute opioid deal could open door to bigger settlement

Monday's $260 million settlement between four drug companies and two Ohio counties clears the way for broader talks aimed at resolving thousands of opioid-addiction cases nationwide. For now, the deal will direct $215 million to Ohio's Cuyahoga and Summit counties from drug distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen.

Monday's $260 million settlement between four drug companies and two Ohio counties clears the way for broader talks aimed at resolving thousands of opioid-addiction cases nationwide. For now, the deal will direct $215 million to Ohio's Cuyahoga and Summit counties from drug distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen. The counties will also receive $20 million in cash and the donation of $25 million in addiction-treatment drugs from drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. A fifth defendant, Walgreens Boots Alliance, did not reach a deal. The trial against it was postponed. Walgreens distanced itself from the other defendants, saying it never manufactured, marketed, or wholesaled prescription opioid medications, or sold any opioid medicines to pain clinics, internet pharmacies, or "pill mills." Walgreens had been included in the trial for its role as a drug distributor to its own stores. Municipalities have balked at a comprehensive settlement negotiated by state attorneys general that includes $22 billion in cash and up to $26 billion in donated addiction-treatment drugs and services, saying that it is not enough money and that they want some control over how it is spent. Lawyers will now attempt to bridge the deep differences not only between the plaintiffs and defendants, but among the hundreds of states, counties, cities, and Native American tribes bringing suits.