Opioid Lawsuits

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster will not recuse himself from hearing the broad, national opioid litigation set to go to trial in Cleveland next month.

Several drug companies involved in the suits – including Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – filed a motion Sept. 14 objecting to the judge’s push for settlements and requesting he remove himself from the case.

Dave Yost speaks at the Ohio Republican Party event, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. Yost was elected as the next Ohio attorney general.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

After taking heat for arguing the state should have a lead role in next month’s huge opioid trial in Cleveland, Ohio’s attorney general says he thinks any money won should be spent at the local level.

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday night, just days after striking a settlement with more than 2,000 local governments over its alleged role in creating and sustaining the deadly opioid crisis.

A group of drug companies is pushing for U.S. District Judge Dan Polster to recuse himself from the wide-reaching array of local government lawsuits over the opioid crisis, objecting to the judge’s push for settlements. 

Attorneys for Cardinal Health, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and other drug makers and distributors filed the motion Saturday morning in federal court in Cleveland. 

Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid drug OxyContin, has reached a tentative deal worth billions of dollars that would resolve thousands of lawsuits brought by municipal and state governments who sued the company for allegedly helping to fuel the opioid crisis.

The pending settlement likely means Purdue will avoid going to trial in the sprawling and complicated case involving some 2,300 local governments across 23 states.

Drug maker Mallinckrodt has reached a $30 million settlement with two Northeast Ohio counties in a federal lawsuit over the opioid crisis.

Mallinckrodt has agreed in principle to pay $24 million in cash to Cuyahoga and Summit counties, plus $6 million in product, Cuyahoga County officials said Friday.

Auditor Dave Yost (left) discusses the bill alongside Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville), the chair of the Health, Human Services and Medicaid committee.
Karen Kasler / Ohio Public Radio

Upcoming trials seen as test cases for forcing drugmakers to pay for societal damage inflicted by the opioid epidemic should be delayed until Ohio's own lawsuits against the drugmakers can be heard, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost argued in a lawsuit.

The early voting center at the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown talk about the ongoing battle over how Ohio maintains its voter rolls. Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, joins the show.

Updated: 4:18 p.m., Aug. 28, 2019

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has circulated draft legislation that could allow the state — not counties — to take the lead in lawsuits over the opioid crisis.

The news comes as Purdue Pharma considers a settlement, reportedly valued at $10 billion to $12 billion, with more than 2,000 local governments suing drug companies over the opioid crisis.

Updated at 5:37 p.m. ET

Confronted with a torrent of lawsuits across the U.S., several major drug companies are in discussions with authorities to resolve thousands of opioid-related suits filed against them. A government source close to the negotiations tells NPR that Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Endo International and Allergan are looking to cut deals.

Updated at 7:04 p.m. ET

An Oklahoma judge has ruled that drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped ignite the state's opioid crisis by deceptively marketing painkillers, and must pay $572 million to the state.

Oklahoma sought $17.5 billion, blaming Johnson & Johnson for fueling the crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people in the state.

An Oklahoma judge will announce a ruling Monday in the state's multibillion-dollar case against drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. The case is being closely watched to see if a court is prepared to hold a pharmaceutical company responsible for contributing to the opioid crisis that took more than 47,000 American lives in 2017 alone.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich sits for an interview with The Associated Press at the Ohio Governor's Residence and Heritage Garden, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in Columbus.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich are creating a nonprofit that will fight to steer cash from any national opioid settlement to hospitals, rather than to local and state governments already sparring for control of the dollars.

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

The federal judge overseeing thousands of opioid lawsuits appears poised to approve a pathway for resolving local government claims against the drug industry and dividing settlement dollars nationwide.  

“There has to be some vehicle to resolve these lawsuits,” U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster said during a Tuesday morning hearing in federal court in Cleveland.

Drug companies have not yet settled claims brought against them in federal court, but confidential settlement talks have continued since the start of the multi-district case.

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