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Giant Eagle settles in opioid suit

Trumbull commissioners, company report agreement

CLEVELAND — Giant Eagle and Trumbull County commissioners announced Friday they have reached a settlement in the opioid crisis lawsuit.

The settlement by the Pittsburgh-based chain also includes Lake County. Settlement terms were not announced. The other defendants on trial are CVS, Walgreens and Walmart.

Another pharmacy chain, Rite-Aid, settled with the two counties in August. Rite-Aid agreed to pay Trumbull County $1.5 million. The amount Lake County will receive has not been disclosed.

Giant Eagle in a joint statement with a committee representing plaintiffs in the national litigation denied causing the opioid crisis, but said it recognizes the severity of the crisis, the impact on the public and the “hard work of the public officials working to address the harms.

“Giant Eagle intends to continue helping the communities in which it operates to address the opioid crisis in a productive way,” the statement said.

Trumbull and Lake county commissioners issued a joint statement, which reads:

“The counties, along with their countless partners, remain committed to addressing the opioid problem in our communities. Our work in, among other areas, counseling, educational outreach and providing treatment options are essential to the well-being of our affected families.

“Our current efforts through litigation are focused on supporting our necessary action to combat the persistent, negative impacts caused by the opioid epidemic. Our residents and their families expect and deserve to live in safe and healthy communities, and we will continue our daily work to exceed these expectations.”

Due to the continuing litigation, the counties said they will not be releasing additional information at this point.

U.S. District Judge Dan Polster is overseeing the trial in Cleveland and supervises nearly 3,000 opioid lawsuits filed from across the country. More than 500,000 people in the U.S. have died from drug overdoses in the last two decades.

The Cleveland trial has been focused on how the companies contributed to the opioid crisis by filling millions of prescriptions for addictive pain killers. All four companies at various times also distributed those drugs to their retail pharmacies.

Around 80 million prescription painkillers were dispensed in Trumbull County between 2012 and 2016 — 400 for every county resident — while 61 million pills were dispensed in Lake County during that five-year period — 265 pills for every resident.

The cost of abating the crisis in each county totals around $1 billion, one of the counties’ attorneys has said.

Defense attorneys for the national drug chains called their first witnesses as the civil jury trial ended its fifth week in a federal courtroom in downtown Cleveland. George Pavlich, who inspected Giant Eagle pharmacies, including those in Trumbull County, testified Thursday.

Earlier information from the trial showed that inspectors went to 88 Giant Eagle pharmacies and all rated satisfactory.

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