Settlement Reached in the First Federal Opioids Trial

This post is an update from our earlier blog post, available here, on the bellwether federal opioids trial in the Northern District of Ohio.  Just hours prior to the start of the trial in a consolidated case involving two plaintiff counties in Ohio, all of the remaining defendants in the case, except Walgreens, reached a settlement.  In the settlement, distributors, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen (distributors of approximately 90% of all prescription medications) will pay $215M to Cuyahoga and Summit Counties in Ohio.  A manufacturer, Teva, will pay $20M in cash over three years and will donate $25M worth of Suboxone, an addiction treatment medication.  Several manufacturers who were originally named defendants in these two consolidated cases previously settled out of the cases.  Judge Polster, the federal judge who has overseen the multi-district litigation (“MDL”), announced that Walgreens would face a separate trial focusing on its role as a dispenser.  There are more than 2,000 cases filed in the MDL by states, counties, cities and tribes which Judge Polster has been overseeing for more than two years.  The remaining cases involve manufacturers, distributors and large pharmacy chains.  Lawyers involved in the cases have expressed hope that the recent settlement could encourage other cases in the MDL to settle as well, although one of the most significant hurdles has been a dispute about how any settlement money would be distributed among the plaintiffs, as well as who would control the use of the settlement funds going forward.

Alissa Smith

Alissa represents health systems, hospitals, pharmacies, long-term care providers, home health agencies and medical practices, as well as nonprofit and municipal organizations. Alissa’s transactional practice includes contracts, leases, mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures. Alissa’s regulatory practice includes the interpretation and application of state and federal fraud and abuse laws, Medicare and Medicaid rules, tax-exemption laws, HIPAA and privacy laws, EMTALA laws, licensing matters, employment laws, governmental audits and open records and open meetings matters. She also assists with corporate and health system governance issues, including the revision and negotiation of medical staff bylaws.

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