Endo, Allergan to pay $15 million in settlements with Ohio counties ahead of upcoming opioid trial

Endo announced Tuesday that it reached an agreement in principle with two counties in Ohio to settle lawsuits surrounding the marketing of branded and generic opioid medications. Under the deal, the drugmaker will pay a total of $10 million and also provide up to $1 million of its Vasostrict (vasopressin) and Adrenalin (epinephrine) products free of charge to be allocated by the two plaintiff counties at their discretion.

Additionally, Allergan entered into a tentative agreement to pay $5 million to resolve similar charges with the counties covering its branded opioids. However, Frank Gallucci, a lawyer for Cuyahoga County, cautioned that the deal does not resolve claims involving generic opioids. 

Matthew Maletta, Endo's chief legal officer, noted that the company "is pleased to have reached a resolution in principle of the Track 1 Cases, which are currently scheduled to go to trial in October." Maletta added "this is a favourable outcome," with shares in the company jumping up to 33% on the news. However, he noted "the cash portion of the settlement approximates the estimated cost to Endo of proceeding through trial," and that the amount "should not be extrapolated to any other opioid-related cases or claims."

In the case, Endo was accused of helping to fuel the opioid epidemic by illegally marketing Opana (oxymorphone), although the drugmaker did not admit to wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The deal only resolves two cases scheduled for the October trial, leaving intact lawsuits against Endo that have been filed by over 2000 local governments over its handling of Opana. Endo withdrew an extended-release formulation of the treatment from the market in 2017 due to concerns regarding its abuse potential. 

Endo was one of several drugmakers that had been named in the lawsuit filed by the Ohio counties. Those that are still slated to face trial on October 21 include Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma and Teva, as well as distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. The case is expected to serve as a bellwether for the roughly 2000 pending opioid lawsuits that have been consolidated in federal court in the state. 

Meanwhile, Endo is also one of six drugmakers named in a lawsuit filed in March by the state of New York alleging that the firms engaged in "years of false and deceptive marketing" of prescription opioid products. 

Earlier this year, Teva and Purdue reached separate agreements with Oklahoma to pay $85 million and $270 million, respectively, to resolve claims that the companies helped fuel the opioid crisis in that state. A decision against the remaining defendant in the case, Johnson & Johnson, is expected next week, with state prosecutors having requested a verdict of more than $17 billion against the drugmaker. 

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