Major Drug Companies Agree to Last-Minute Settlement of Opioid Trial

CLEVELAND — The three major drug distributors and an opioid manufacturer have reached a settlement worth $260 million to avoid the landmark first federal opioid trial that was set to begin here Monday.

Judge Dan A. Polster of the Northern District of Ohio announced from the bench this morning that the deal was struck around 1 a.m.

People familiar with the discussions said a settlement to resolve thousands of other cases brought by local governments and states could be announced later in the day by state attorneys general, but Judge Polster only confirmed the settlement of this first landmark trial.

To settle the immediate trial, the drug distributors — McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen — will pay $215 million to the two Ohio counties that brought the case, people familiar with the agreement said. Teva, the Israel-based manufacturer of generic drugs, is expected to pay at least $20 million in cash and donate $25 million worth of addiction treatment drugs.

Earlier in the weekend, a smaller distributor named in one case filed, by Summit County, also settled. Henry Schein Medical agreed to contribute $1 million to a grant-making foundation focusing on alternatives for addressing pain and appropriate prescribing of opioids, and to pay $250,000 for the plaintiffs’ legal fees.

This developing story will be updated.