Summit and Cuyahoga counties have reached tentative settlement agreements with two Ireland-based drugmakers as part of a landmark trial against dozens of opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The settlement announced Tuesday with Endo International came one day after Summit County Council unanimously voted to authorize the county executive to settle claims with some of the smaller defendants in the case: any manufacturing or distributor defendants with less than a 10% share of the opioid market in Summit County.

Under the settlement in principle announced Tuesday, Endo — which includes subsidiaries Endo Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, Par Pharmaceutical and Par Pharmaceutical Companies — will pay a total of $10 million. It will also provide up to $1 million of two of its products, Vasostrict and Adrenalin, free of charge to the two counties.

The settlement will include no admission of wrongdoing, fault or liability by Endo and is based on the avoidance of litigation risk and associated costs, according to the news release.

“This is a favorable outcome for the company,” Matthew J. Maletta, Endo's executive vice president and chief legal officer, said in a prepared statement.

Maletta said in the statement the $10 million is the estimated cost of Endo proceeding through the trial.

Frank Gallucci, an attorney representing Cuyahoga County in the case, confirmed the details of the Endo settlement.

Gallucci also confirmed an agreement in principle with drugmaker Allergan but declined to release the details of the agreement. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday night Allergan is in negotiations for a potential $5 million deal that would settle claims over its branded drugs but may not entirely eliminate it from the trial.

Gallucci confirmed the Allergan settlement will include only branded opioids, not generic.

Messages were left with Allergan spokespeople seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

The two companies are the first to tentatively agree to settlements in the sprawling, costly, enormously complicated agglomeration of lawsuits filed against nearly two dozen big drug companies — including Cardinal Health in Dublin, near Columbus, and Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin — being litigated in federal court in Cleveland.

The plaintiffs include about 2,000 cities, counties, Native American tribes and other local government entities.

They accuse the drug manufacturers of understating the risks of the opioids, and accuse the distributors of failing to monitor suspiciously large orders. Industry attorneys have denied wrongdoing by their clients, saying they were making and distributing legal drugs intended for patients in legitimate need of pain relief.

Judge Dan Polster in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District of Ohio has urged the parties to settle. He has set a firm trial date of Oct. 21. Summit and Cuyahoga counties are serving as the bellwether cases representing all the plaintiffs.

“We are set for trial on Oct. 21, and in anticipation of that trial coming up, we wanted to have some authority in order to reach settlements with some of the smaller defendants in the litigation without having to convene council, you know, just for that purpose,” Jason Dodson, chief of staff to Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro, said Monday night. “So this gives us that authority to settle those.”

Greta Johnson, assistant chief of staff to the county executive and the county’s public information officer, declined to comment Tuesday afternoon because the litigation is ongoing. Cuyahoga County communications director Mary Louise Madigan referred questions to Gallucci.

Gallucci said both agreements are subject to final approvals by the parties. He said he couldn’t estimate a timeline for the process. 

 

The Washington Post contributed to this article. Contact reporter Emily Mills at 330-996-3334, emills@thebeaconjournal.com and @EmilyMills818.