Endo files for bankruptcy as it agrees opioid settlement

close up of a prescription bottle with white tables falling out on top of a group of hundred dollar bills

Endo International is the latest drugmaker to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in connection with opioid litigation in the US, after agreeing a $6 billion deal with creditors that includes an offer to settle outstanding lawsuits.

The Ireland-domiciled company is struggling under the weight of around $8 billion in debt, and has been hamstrung by costs associated with fighting thousands of suits that accuse it of wrongdoing in its marketing and promotion of painkiller Opana ER (oxymorphone), which was withdrawn from the market five years ago, as well as oxycodone-based products Percocet and Endocet.

Endo's slide into bankruptcy follows in the footsteps of Purdue Pharma – which filed in 2019 but is still negotiating opioid settlement and corporate restructuring terms – as well as Mallinckrodt, which emerged from chapter 11 after agreeing a $1.6 billion settlement earlier this year.

In a statement, Endo said its plans would result in a "substantial" reduction in debt and would create voluntary trusts funded with $550 million set aside for "certain opioid claims."

Separately, the company also agreed in principle a deal with 34 US states to provide $450 million over a period of ten years, to resolve allegations that the company boosted opioid sales using deceptive marketing practices.

The settlement would ban Endo from promoting opioids and require it to hand over millions of documents related to its role in the opioid crisis for publication in a public online archive.

Pharmacy chains ordered to pay $650m

Meanwhile, three of the largest pharmacy chains in the US – CVS, Walgreens and Walmart – have been ordered to pay $650 million to two Ohio counties in the wake of a jury trial, which found them culpable of fuelling the opioid crisis last November.

The money – which is the first financial award in a case brought against the pharmacies in a federal court – will be allocated to tackle an opioid crisis in Lake and Trumbull counties, located outside Cleveland.

Attorneys for the counties, who accused the pharmacies of dispensing vast quantities of opioids whilst turning a blind eye to abuse of the drugs – have said they estimate the cost of combatting opioid abuse could run to $3.3 billion.

CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens have all said they will appeal the ruling, insisting they neither manufactured or marketed opioids, nor distributed them to illegal 'pill mills' and rogue Internet pharmacies that they claim fuelled the epidemic of opioid abuse.