Drug companies strike 11th-hour deal to avoid major opioid trial

Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn. | Frank Franklin II/AP Photo

Major drug companies reached a late-breaking settlement with two Ohio counties over their alleged role in the opioid epidemic hours before the first federal trial was set to begin today.

Three firms that distribute most of the U.S. drug supply — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — as well as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Walgreens will avoid the high-profile trial, which had been seen as a bellwether for how the courts will treat thousands of similar lawsuits from cities, states, hospitals and Native American tribes. However, the settlement does not resolve those remaining lawsuits, many of which are being overseen by a federal judge in Cleveland.