Four pharmaceutical companies that were sued by thousands of plaintiffs over their role in the opioid epidemic have reached a $235 million settlement on Monday, just hours before their trial was set to begin.
McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc, AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. reached the settlement with Summit and Cuyahoga counties in Ohio. According to terms of the settlement, McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. will pay out $215 million immediately with Teva Pharmaceutical paying $20 million.
Officials said both sides agreed on the terms of the settlement just after midnight and the case against the four pharma companies was dismissed with prejudice. All four defendants were scheduled to appear in a Cleveland court on Monday in the first multidistric litigation (MDL) which involve the opioid epidemic. Summit and Cuyahoga counties were the first among more than 2,7000 plaintiff communities that are headed for trial.
According to a joint statement issued by the Attorneys General in North Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Texas, Monday's settlement is the first step in a "global resolution" officials are working towards.
"People in every corner of the country have been hurt by this crisis, and it is critical that settlement funds be distributed fairly across states, cities, and counties and used wisely to combat the crisis. The global resolution we are working to finalize will accomplish those goals while also ensuring that these companies change their business practices to prevent a public health crisis like this from ever happening again," the statement read.
Walgreens remained the only defendant who did not participate in the settlement ahead of Monday's trial, with that company's trial postponed for now.
"Walgreens is completely unlike the wholesalers involved in the national opioid litigation," the company told ABC News in a statement Monday. "Before 2014, Walgreens delivered opioid medications - among many other types of medications - only to our own pharmacies, staffed by our own pharmacy professionals. We never sold opioid medications to pain clinics, internet pharmacies or the 'pill mills' that fueled the national opioid crisis."
"Additionally, Walgreens never manufactured prescription opioid medications. We never marketed or promoted opioid medications. We never prescribed any opioid medications. Walgreens was not a wholesaler of opioid medications," the statement added.
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