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The nation’s three biggest drug distributors and a major drugmaker reached a $260 million settlement with two Ohio counties over the deadly havoc wreaked by opioids, just hours before the first federal trial over the crisis was about to begin Monday.
The settlement means the closely watched trial will not move forward now.
The trial involved only two counties _ Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County and Akron’s Summit County _ but was seen as an important test case that could gauge the strength of the opposing sides’ arguments and prod them toward a nationwide settlement.
The agreement reached Monday calls for the distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson to pay a combined $215 million, said Hunter Shkolnik, a lawyer for Cuyahoga County.
Israeli-based drugmaker Teva would contribute $20 million in cash and $25 million worth of Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction.
Separately, the small distributor Henry Schein also announced Monday that it is settling with Summit County for $1.25 million. The company was not named in Cuyahoga’s lawsuit.
After the new settlements and previous ones with five other drugmakers, the only defendant left in the trial that had been scheduled for Monday is the pharmacy chain Walgreens.
The new plan is for Walgreens and other pharmacies to go to trial within six months if they don’t reach settlements first.
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