Two counties in Ohio just settled their claims relating to opioid addiction against four defendants, three of whom are distributors and the other a manufacturer of opioids, for $260 million. The three distributors are AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. The manufacturer is Teva, an Israeli based drug maker. Reportedly, the three distributors are paying $215 million and Teva is paying $20 million plus it will contribute $25 million worth of the generic Suboxone, which is a drug used to treat addiction to opioids.
The two Ohio counties that settled just before opening statement to the jury in the trial set in Cleveland, Ohio are Summit County and Cuyahoga County.
For those readers who do fully understand what opioids are, opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Opioids work in the brain to promote pain relief plus some other different effects.
Opioids often are prescription medications, called painkillers, or they also can be so-called street drugs, such as heroin.
Many prescription opioids are used to block pain signals between the brain and the body and are often prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain. In addition to controlling pain, opioids can make some people feel relaxed, happy or “high,” and opioids can be very addictive, which is the basis of this reported litigation.
Opioids also are sometimes called narcotics and while opioids relieve pain, opioids certainly do not fall into the same category as over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol, aspirin and ibuprofen.
The most commonly used opioids fall within these three classes:
- Prescription opioids, such as Vicodin, Coedine and OxyContin (aka oxycodone)
- Fentanyl, which is a synthetic opioid that is about 50–100 times more potent than morphine
- Heroin, an well known unlawful street drug
Regarding this subject settlement for $260 million, one benefit to settling allows the parties certainty, rather than taking the risk of what a jury might do. Further, the defendants may be able to keep some of the evidence prepared for this trial confidential or at least not fully disclosed to the public. It also allows these two counties to secure a large amount of money now, and before the assets of these four defendants may be depleted or used-up because remember this $260 million settlement is just with only two Ohio counties. Just think of all the other cities, counties, government entities, hospitals, health insurers, and individual victims and the families with wrongful death claims of those who died because of opioid addiction. It is claimed that in the United States alone about 400,000 died in just the last 20 years. Imagine how many other potential opioid addicted claimants are still alive.
In fact, the Los Angeles Times (October 22, 2019, A5) reported that many executives representing potential defendants and state attorneys generals from four states met in Cleveland, Ohio, last week to discuss a potential offer of $48 billion to settle these claims on a nationwide level, made-up of cash and drugs to treat addiction, This is a huge amount of money, but there is still the staggering chore of getting all or most all claimants and potential claimants to agree and sign-on.
The Times also reported that Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, considered by some to be the most responsible entity in the opioid crisis, reached a tentative settlement about a month ago for about $12 billion. However, the Times states many states and local government entities oppose this deal. While these government entities obviously seek the most money possible, they need to keep in mind the benefits of a firm settlement compared to the uncertainties of a long, expensive and risky trial, plus the risk that by the time such a case is tried (and expectedly won) whether this company will still have sufficient assets to pay any large verdict.
Should you or a family member suffer from any opioid illness or addiction, please contact us now for an absolutely FREE no obligation consultation and case evaluation. There are many time deadlines and rules, so please do NOT wait and risk losing your rights!