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Teva Pharmaceuticals found liable for role in New York opioid epidemic

Teva Pharmaceuticals found liable for role in New York opioid epidemic
Teva Pharmaceuticals was found liable for contributing to opioid addiction and deaths in New York state in a landmark ruling on Thursday. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A New York jury on Thursday found that Teva Pharmaceuticals contributed to opioid addiction and deaths in New York state.

The ruling marks the conclusion of a case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James in March 2019 against six opioid manufacturers and their affiliates, four opioid distributors and members of the Sackler family.

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"Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and others misled the American people about the true dangers of opioids, which is why, in 2019, I made a promise that our team would hold them and the other manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid epidemic accountable for the suffering that they have caused," James said in a statement Thursday.

Another trial will be held in 2022 to determine exactly how much Teva and other parties will have to pay in addition to the $1.5 billion James had already negotiated for the state from different opioid manufacturers and distributors.

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"While no amount of money will ever compensate for the human suffering, the addiction, or the lives lost due to opioid abuse, we will immediately push to move forward with a trial to determine how much Teva and others will pay," said James.

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In a statement to CNN, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA said it disagreed with the outcome of the case and would plan for a "swift appeal" while seeking a mistrial.

"In NY, the plaintiffs presented no evidence of medically unnecessary prescriptions, suspicious or diverted orders, no evidence of oversupply by the defendants -- or any indication of what volumes were appropriate -- and no casual relationship between Teva's conduct including its marketing and any harm to the public state," the company said.

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The trial was the first to include different types of companies on the opioid supply chain. Additionally, jurors found that New York state itself, which is tasked with enforcing controlled substances laws, held some responsibility.

Lawyers for the two counties on Long Island, where the rate of overdose death involving any opioid more than doubled between 2010 and 2018, said the companies helped perpetuate a public nuisance, a legal claim that refers to a substantial, ongoing interference with a public right.

Johnson & Johnson was previously included in the case but reached a $230 million settlement in June, followed by a $1.1 billion along with distributors McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc. and Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation.

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Endo Health Solutions settled for $50 million in September, and Allergan Finance LLC settled with the state on Wednesday as closing arguments in the case began.

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Other defendants in the initial suit, such as Purdue Pharma and distributor Rochester Drug Cooperative declared bankruptcy, with the case against them making their way through the bankruptcy court system.

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