Judge holds closed-door settlement talks over opioid crisis

Judge holds closed-door settlement talks over opioid crisis
FILE - This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 file photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen, also known as Percocet, in New York. Cities and counties of all sizes have sued companies that make and distribute prescription opioids. Among the plaintiffs so far: Philadelphia; the state of Ohio; Princeton, West Virginia; the Cherokee Nation; and a consortium of counties across Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

CLEVELAND (AP) — A federal judge in Ohio is ready to start talks on a possible settlement of hundreds of lawsuits brought against drugmakers and drug distributors over the nation’s opioid epidemic.

More than 250 lawsuits filed by communities across the country have been consolidated in the Cleveland courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster.

Polster planned Wednesday to bring together lawyers for municipal and state governments, drugmakers, drug distributors and others to start the conversation.

The judge has closed the discussions to the public and media since the aim is to broker a settlement.

The settlement talks come in the midst of the most widespread and deadly drug crisis in the nation’s history.

The government tallied 63,600 overdose drug deaths in 2016, another record.