Drug companies fail to reach settlement ahead of opioid crisis trial

Judge in opioid trial denies bias, refuses to disqualify himself
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Six drug companies accused in thousands of lawsuits over their role in the nation’s opioid epidemic failed to reach a settlement with governments across the country, setting the stage for a high-profile trial Monday.

The six defendants include three pharmaceutical distribution companies — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson Corporation — a smaller distributor called Henry Schein Medical, generic drug company Teva Pharmaceuticals and pharmacy chain Walgreens, according to court documents.

The talks lasted more than 10 hours and took place between the four distribution companies’ CEOs, attorneys general from Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas, and lawyers representing over 2,000 state, local and Native American tribal governments.

“Our goal when assessing settlement proposals is to provide local communities with adequate and urgently needed relief in the near term, and to ensure that these resources will be directed exclusively toward efforts to abate the opioid epidemic,” plaintiff attorneys Paul J. Hanly Jr., Paul T. Farrell Jr., and Joe Rice said in a joint statement. “The facts will show that opioid makers and distributors conspired to create and benefit from the worst public health crisis in decades.”

There were talks earlier this week with five companies settling for potentially settling for $50 billion, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. The companies proposed to pay a combined $18 billion over 18 years.

Purdue Pharma previously reached a proposed settlement agreement in the litigation.

The New York Times first reported news of a nearly $50 billion settlement.

CNN’s Evan Simko-Bednarski and Melanie Schuman contributed to this report.