Health and Science

Multibillion-dollar opioid settlement talks falter as first federal trial is set to start on Monday

Key Points
  • A landmark trial stemming from the U.S. opioid epidemic is expected to begin on Monday after last-ditch talks to strike a multibillion-dollar settlement faltered on Friday, according to an attorney for local governments.
  • "Our clients aren't there yet," said Hanly, who represents the local governments that brought the bulk of the lawsuits.
  • Together, the companies will be defending themselves at Monday's trial over allegations they fueled an opioid addiction crisis that caused roughly 400,000 U.S. deaths from 1999 to 2017, according government statistics.
Oxy Dollars and prescription bottles of OxyContin. Members of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and Truth Pharm staged a rally and die-in outside New Yorks Southern District Federal Court in White Plains, where Purdue Pharmaceuticals bankruptcy hearing is being held.
Erik McGregor | LightRocket | Getty Images

A landmark trial stemming from the U.S. opioid epidemic is expected to begin on Monday after last-ditch talks to strike a multibillion-dollar settlement faltered on Friday, according to an attorney for local governments.

The thousands of local governments that sued drugmakers and distributors are "not on the same page" as state attorneys general who also sued the companies, said the attorney, Paul Hanly.

"Our clients aren't there yet," said Hanly, who represents the local governments that brought the bulk of the lawsuits.

U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster summoned executives from distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson and Israel-based drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries for Friday's talks.

Also attending were executives from smaller distributor Henry Schein and Walgreen Boots Alliance, a pharmacy chain.

Together, the companies will be defending themselves at Monday's trial over allegations they fueled an opioid addiction crisis that caused roughly 400,000 U.S. deaths from 1999 to 2017, according government statistics.

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Key Points
  • McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health are in discussions to pay a combined $18 billion to settle multistate opioid litigation.
  • Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson has offered $4 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
  • News of the discussions comes as jury selection was set to get underway Wednesday in Cleveland, before opening arguments in the federal trial Oct. 21.