Four large drug companies have today reached a last-minute $260m legal settlement over their role in the US opioid addiction epidemic.

The settlement averted the first federal trial that was scheduled to start today in Cleveland. 

The settlement covers drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson as well as Israel-based drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, and ends lawsuits by two Ohio counties.

Hunter Shklonik, an attorney for the counties, said Teva is paying $20m in cash and will contribute $25m worth of Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment. 

On Friday, talks with the same defendants collapsed, which were aimed at reaching a broader $48 billion settlement covering thousands of lawsuits filed by counties, towns and states from across the country over the crisis. 

The judge overseeing the trial said he would work out a new trial date for the remaining defendant, pharmacy chain operator Walgreens Boots Alliance.

The report said the settlement only covered the two Ohio counties acting as plaintiffs in the so-called bellwether or test trial.