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Two Drug Companies Near Settlement With Cuyahoga, Summit In Opioid Suit

[Darwin Brandis / Shutterstock]
Pills spill out of orange bottles

Two drug companies have reached agreements in principle with Cuyahoga and Summit counties to settle the local governments’ federal lawsuits over the opioid crisis.

According to a company news release, Endo International has agreed to pay $10 million to settle claims by the two counties that the drug manufacturer contributed to the rise of opioid addiction there. The company would also make available to the two counties up to $1 million worth of two other medications. Endo would not admit wrongdoing or liability for the opioid crisis as part of the settlement.

Allergan has agreed in principle to settle claims related to its brand-name opioid products, according to Frank Gallucci, an attorney working for Cuyahoga County, but the deal would not include the company's generic drugs. Gallucci said he could not confirm the settlement amount, which is reported to be $5 million.

Representatives from Allergan did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The agreements still must be approved by the counties’ councils and by the companies’ boards, Gallucci said.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who is overseeing the more than 2,000 opioid suits, has pushed for local jurisdictions and the drug industry to settle. Earlier this month, Polster heard arguments on the plaintiffs’ proposal to create a route for approving agreements between drug companies and governments nationwide.

These settlements would not resolve the claims brought by numerous other local governments, nor would it remove the counties from a potential negotiating class in that litigation. Cuyahoga and Summit are still scheduled to try their claims against other drug companies in October — the first trial in the wide-ranging litigation. Cuyahoga and Summit would still receive their portion of any comprehensive settlement signed between Endo and local governments, minus this current settlement amount, the company said.

The plaintiffs accuse drug companies of fueling the opioid crisis by misrepresenting the addictive risks of painkillers and ignoring suspicious orders of pills. Drug companies have denied these claims and have been preparing to fight them in court.

Many drug companies also face lawsuits by state attorneys general in county courtrooms across the country. In March, Purdue Pharma agreed to a $270 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma.

Insys Therapeutics, another opioid company sued by local governments, filed for bankruptcy in June after settling criminal and civil investigations by the federal government.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.