Opioid manufacturer announces settlement ahead of major federal trial

One of the largest manufacturers of generic opioids tentatively agreed to a $30 million settlement to resolve all claims against it before a massive federal trial begins next month.

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals on Friday announced it had reached a settlement in principle with Cuyahoga and Summit counties in Ohio. If the settlement is finalized, Mallinckrodt would pay $24 million in cash and donate $6 million in generic products, including addiction treatment products.

“Mallinckrodt is pleased we were able to reach a settlement in principle with the counties that made sense for all parties,” said Mark Casey, Mallinckrodt’s general counsel. Resolving the cases “gives us the necessary time to continue to work towards a global resolution of the opioid lawsuits.”

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The settlement announcement comes a little more than a month before the scheduled start of a federal trial in Cleveland involving more than 2,000 consolidated cases brought by counties, cities and tribes against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies. 

This week, the judge overseeing the cases denied a request by the drug companies to have the lawsuits dismissed, and ruled they can be presented before a jury. 

Other lawsuits, including most of those filed by state attorneys general, are being heard in state courts.

The suits accuse drugmakers of emphasizing the benefits of prescription painkillers while downplaying their addictive risks. Drug companies are also accused of not flagging orders of suspiciously large amounts of opioid pills.

Settlement negotiations have been underway for the past year, but have sped up in recent weeks.

OxyContin maker Purdue reportedly offered $10 billion to $12 billion in August to end the lawsuits against it. But the talks have since stalled after states reportedly were unhappy with the settlement terms, and the company is now prepared to declare bankruptcy without a settlement.

Two other companies, Endo International and Allergan, which made smaller amounts of opioids, previously settled with the same counties. Endo will pay a total sum of $10 million cash and will provide up to $1 million of drug donations. Allergan settled for about $5 million. 

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