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Tentative $161.5 million settlement reached in opioid trial

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Attorneys for the state of West Virginia and two remaining pharmaceutical manufacturers have reached a tentative $161.5 million settlement just as closing arguments were set to begin in a seven-week trial over the opioid epidemic, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Wednesday.

Morrisey announced the development in court in the state’s lawsuit against Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc., AbbVie’s Allergan and their family of companies. The judge agreed to put the trial on hold to give the parties the opportunity to reach a full settlement agreement in the upcoming weeks. No financial terms were announced.

“We are very optimistic that we can do so,” Morrisey said.

The trial started on April 4. The lawsuit accused the defendants of downplaying the risks of addiction associated with opioid use while overstating the benefits.

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West Virginia had reached a $99 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. last month over the drugmaker’s role in perpetuating the opioid crisis in the state that has long led the nation in drug overdose deaths.

Before the trial started, Morrisey’s office announced the state settled part of the lawsuit involving another defendant, Endo Health Solutions, for $26 million.

State and local governments, Native American tribes, unions, hospitals and other entities have filed more than 3,000 lawsuits involving the opioid epidemic in state and federal courts.

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In Charleston, a separate bench trial wrapped up last summer in a federal lawsuit accusing AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson of fueling the opioid crisis in Cabell County and the city of Huntington. That judge has not indicated when he will rule.

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