In a scramble to avoid the first federal trial over the opioid epidemic, two drug companies have agreed to pay plaintiffs Cuyahoga and Summit counties a combined $15 million in lawsuit settlements.
In both cases, the charges essentially boil down to the pharmaceutical companies Endo and Allergan downplaying the risks of the potent drugs and turning a blind eye to mishandling of the drug, including wrongfully shipped suspicious orders.
Endo is known for manufacturing the powerful opioid Opana that was removed from the market in 2017 following pressure from the FDA. According to a Tuesday press release, Endo has agreed in principle to pay the counties $10 million — the estimated cost of trial — as well as $1 million in free blood pressure medicines. According to news first published Monday in the The Wall Street Journal, opioid-producer Allergan has tentatively agreed to pay the counties $5 million to settle charges over its branded opioids.
Ohio has become known an an epicenter of the opioid epidemic, and Northeast Ohio along with the rest of the state has been wrecked by the influx of opioid-related deaths in recent years.
Endo and Allergan were selected among 2,000 consolidated lawsuits to undergo the first test, or bellwether, trial relating to drug companies’ responsibility in the epidemic. While a trial is still scheduled for Oct. 21 in the U.S. District Court in Cleveland, these tentative settlements diminish the possibility of the two companies being held accountable in federal court proceedings.
Frank Gallucci, an attorney representing Cuyahoga County, told Cleveland.com that both the Cuyahoga and Summit County Councils and the boards of both drug companies still need to approve settlements in order to avoid the impending October trial.
Unsurprisingly, neither Endo nor Allegan has accepted responsibility or admitted fault for their role in perpetuating the opioid epidemic.