Drug companies' $378m US opioid settlement

A trial over drug companies' role in the US opioid crisis won't go ahead after the parties settled.
A trial over drug companies' role in the US opioid crisis won't go ahead after the parties settled.

Four large drug companies have reached a last-minute $US260 million ($A378 million) legal settlement over their role in the US opioid addiction epidemic, averting a trial that was about to start.

The settlement covers drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson and Israel-based drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and ends lawsuits by two Ohio counties.

Lawyer for the counties Hunter Shklonik said Teva is paying $US20 million ($A29 million) in cash and will contribute $US25 million ($A36 million) worth of Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment.

Talks with the same defendants collapsed on Friday.

The talks were aimed at reaching a broader $US48 billion ($A70 billion) settlement covering thousands of lawsuits filed by counties, towns and states from across the country over the crisis.

The judge overseeing Monday's trial said he would work out a new trial date for the remaining defendant, pharmacy chain operator Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Some 400,000 US overdose deaths between 1997 and 2017 were linked to opioids, according to government data.

Australian Associated Press