First federal opioid trial to begin Monday, with juror selection underway

The first federal trial on opioid abuse in America is scheduled to start Monday, as lawyers haggled over juror selection Wednesday.

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Two Ohio counties claim drug companies that made, distributed and sold prescription painkillers engaged in a deadly conspiracy that has inflicted massive damage on their communities and created a costly public nuisance. It's expected to take up to three days for attorneys for Summit and Cuyahoga counties and six drug companies to select a 12-person jury.

There are six defendants in this case -- five major pharmaceutical companies and one retail giant with a sizable pharmaceutical department: Cardinal Health, McKesson, Amerisource Bergen, Actavis (owned by Teva), Henry Schein and Walgreens.

This lawsuit may help set the tone for how other courts in the legal system will handle future cases arising from opioids. The resolution of this case may even lead to a giant global settlement about this issue, via U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster -- who is currently presiding over 2,000 plus lawsuits that have been filed by local governments and other entities against drug companies and who has indicated that he wants opioid-ravaged areas to receive financial relief rapidly. The federal suits have been combined in a class action case.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that three of the six defendants, Cardinal Health, Amerisource Bergen and McKesson, are in talks to pay up to $18 billion to settle around 2,000 opioid lawsuits.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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