Endo Pharmaceuticals announced a proposed $35 million deal in a suit seeking $2.4 billion in damages that was brought by Tennessee local governments on behalf of a baby who was born dependent on opioids, occurring just before trial was set to start in state court.
If approved by all the plaintiffs in the suit — which in addition to the child referred to as “Baby Doe,” comprise nine counties and 18 cities and towns — the deal will end claims that Endo and two other companies knowingly participated in the illegal drug market by flooding the state with opioids.
The $35 million would be split among the 28 plaintiffs at “their discretion”.
Baby Doe was allegedly born with neonatal abstinence syndrome in 2015 and went through withdrawal after his birth, “writhing in agony” during his first days.
Tennessee has been particularly hard hit by the opioid epidemic, and the neonatal abstinence syndrome rate in the state in 2017 was 16.4 cases per 1,000 hospital births, compared to a national rate of 6 cases per 1,000 births.
The $35 million settlement offer is one of several other opioid deals announced this week, primarily a $26 billion global settlement by Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s three largest drug distributors to end the majority of claims against them.
J&J — and other drugmakers — have been accused of fueling the opioid crisis by overhyping opioids’ benefits while downplaying the risks of addiction. Drug distributors have also faced allegations they ignored suspiciously large orders of opioids shipped around the country.