Drug maker Endo settles claims for opioids by counties and cities in Tennessee for US$35 million Reuters

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Brendan Pearson

(Reuters)-Endo International Plc has agreed to pay 35 million U.S. dollars to settle the Tennessee local government lawsuit and represent a child who is said to be naturally addicted to painkillers in accusing the drug manufacturer of contributing to the epidemic of opioids. The company announced on Thursday.

The settlement agreement was reached a few days before the case entered trial to determine the damages, and it is expected that the plaintiff will demand US$2.4 billion in damages. A judge had previously ruled that Endo should be punished for failing to produce evidence.

“We are very pleased that after more than four years of litigation, we were able to reach an agreement in principle with Endo and thank the communities in northeastern Tennessee for their support of this landmark prosecution,” said attorney Gerald Strange In Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, representing the plaintiff.

Endo said the transaction must still be approved by some plaintiffs.

After local government officials revealed that the drug maker had made a settlement offer, Endo’s stock price rose about 25% on Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed in 2017 and was filed by 9 counties, 18 cities, and a “little doe” who allegedly suffered from neonatal withdrawal syndrome, which was caused by abstinence from intrauterine opioid exposure. Caused by the break.

The plaintiff claimed that Endo downplayed the risks of its painkiller Opana ER, which was withdrawn from the market in 2017 due to fear of abuse. OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and generic opioid manufacturer Malincrot (OTC:) Plc was also listed as a defendant in the case, but then filed for bankruptcy, making Endo the only active defendant.

Sullivan County Circuit Court Judge EG Moody, who oversaw the case, ruled in April that Endo and his lawyers adopted a “coordinated strategy” to withhold evidence, including evidence about opioid prescribers. He took an unusual step and sanctioned the company’s liability judgment, leaving only damages to be decided in the trial.

According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1999 to 2019, nearly 500,000 people died from opioid overdose in the United States. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that interim data showed that the total number of drug overdose deaths in 2020 reached a record year of 93,331, an increase of 29% over the same period last year.

The Tennessee case is one of more than 3,000 lawsuits, most of which are lawsuits filed by local governments, accusing drugmakers of falsely promoting opioids as safe, while distributors and pharmacies have ignored the danger of drugs being diverted to illegal channels signal. The defendant denied these claims.

The U.S. Attorney General announced a settlement proposal on Wednesday, in which leading drug distributors McKesson Corp (NYSE:), Cardinal Health Inc (NYSE:) and AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:) Corp will jointly pay 21 billion U.S. dollars, and drug maker Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:) will pay 5 billion U.S. dollars to settle most of the claims against them.

Endo is not part of the deal and is currently defending itself with other drugmakers in trials in New York and California. The company settled opioid claims in two Ohio counties for $10 million in 2019.

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