Oklahoma governor, GOP leaders: Drug settlement with Teva violates law
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Oklahoma governor, GOP leaders: Drug settlement with Teva violates law

Israeli-owned pharmaceuticals giant being battered on multiple fronts over role in opioid epidemic, price fixing allegations

An Israeli worker walks by the offices of Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva Industries in Jerusalem, October 11, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
An Israeli worker walks by the offices of Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva Industries in Jerusalem, October 11, 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

NORMAN, Oklahoma — Oklahoma’s governor and Republican legislative leaders have raised concerns about the state’s proposed $85 million settlement with Israeli-owned Teva Pharmaceuticals, a move that has yet to be approved by a judge.

Teva is one of the drugmakers named in Oklahoma’s lawsuit over the opioid crisis.

Governor Kevin Stitt, House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said in a brief filed Friday that the proposed settlement doesn’t comply with a new state law.

The three leaders said they believe the settlement conflicts with the law that directs any settlement funds directly into the state treasury. The law was passed last month after lawmakers openly grumbled about how Attorney General Mike Hunter structured the state’s $270 million settlement with Purdue Pharmaceuticals.

Hunter announced the deal with Teva on May 26.

Oklahoma’s lawsuit blaming consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson and some of its subsidiaries for contributing to the opioid epidemic is continuing.

Earlier this year, Oklahoma settled with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma for $270 million.

In March, New York state sued the billionaire Sackler family behind Purdue, the company that created the opioid painkiller OxyContin, joining a growing list of state and local governments seeking to hold not only the firm, but also its owners accountable for the nation’s opioid crisis.

Five other companies that produce opioid medicines, including Teva, and four drug distributors, which buy medications in bulk and sell them to pharmacies, were also added as defendants.

The struggling Israeli pharmaceutical giant was hit in May with another blow, when it was named as a one of the defendants in an anti-trust lawsuit brought by over 40 US states alleging a price-fixing effort among drug manufacturers.

During a 19-month period from 2013 to 2015, Teva is said to have significantly raised prices on around 112 generic drugs and colluded on at least 86 other drugs, the states said in the suit, according to the report. Some of the increases were more than 1,000%.

The suit is being led by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.

“We have hard evidence that shows the generic drug industry perpetrated a multi-billion dollar fraud on the American people,” Tong said in a statement. “We all wonder why our health care, and specifically the prices for generic prescription drugs, are so expensive in this country — this is a big reason why.”

The Israeli firm was already struggling with massive debt, price cuts in its key activities, plummeting stocks and declining sales of a flagship drug.

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