Teva reaches $150 million deal with Texas to settle opioid-related claims

Agreement with US subsidiary of Israeli pharmaceutical giant also requires it to provide $75m-worth of generic medicine doses that aid in opioid addiction and recovery

Ricky Ben-David is a Times of Israel editor and reporter

The logo for Teva appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 21, 2019.  (AP Photo/ Richard Drew)
The logo for Teva appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 21, 2019. (AP Photo/ Richard Drew)

Teva Pharmaceuticals, the US subsidiary of Israel’s generic drug maker giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, will pay Texas $150 million to settle the state’s opioid-related claims against the company and provide doses of generic medicines that aid in opioid addiction and recovery, valued at $75 million.

According to the settlement agreement, the $150 million will be paid over a period of 15 years and doses of Narcan (naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray) will be made available over 10 years, Teva said Monday.

The company has faced legal proceedings in a number of US states including Louisiana and California amid ongoing claims that Teva and other drugmakers like Johnson & Johnson, Endo International, and AbbVie’s Allergan engaged in misleading marketing of opioid drugs and downplayed the risks of addiction.

The state of Louisiana claimed that Teva and other pharmaceutical companies “engaged in fraudulent marketing regarding the risks and benefits of prescription opioids, which helped fuel Louisiana’s opioid epidemic.” Teva reached a $15 million settlement with the state in September.

In late December, a suburban New York jury ruled that Teva Pharmaceuticals contributed to the opioid crisis, in one of the verdicts so far among thousands of lawsuits nationwide over the painkillers. The jury found the drug company played a role in what is legally termed a public nuisance but had lethal consequences. Teva said at the time that it “strongly disagrees” with the verdict and plans to appeal.

Drugmakers and distributors are facing thousands of claims by state and local authorities that they helped fuel the addiction and overdose epidemic in the US, a health crisis that has claimed the lives of close to 500,000 Americans since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Protesters stage a die-in and have their shapes traced on the sidewalk outside the courthouse where the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy is taking place in White Plains, NY, August 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Around the country, state and local governments, Native American tribes, unions, school districts and others have sued the drug industry over the painkillers.

The 2019 New York lawsuit against Teva, known for making generic drugs, focused on Actiq and Fentora, two brand-name fentanyl drugs approved for some cancer patients. Teva repeatedly promoted them more broadly for other types of pain, in a “deceptive and dangerous marketing strategy,” the lawsuit said.

Teva was the sole manufacturing defendant left in the suit after others settled, most recently Allergan Finance LLC in December. The various settlements have netted New York up to $1.5 billion.

Johnson & Johnson and three major US drug distribution companies are proceeding with a $26 billion deal to settle these claims. Teva was initially part of the group of drugmakers that, in 2019, offered a settlement valued at $48 billion combined to settle. The company offered $250 million in cash and $23 billion in free drugs.

But the $26 billion national deal was struck without Teva, which has been navigating the lawsuits as they come. This is because the company did not offer as much cash, in part because of a debt load of over $20 billion, said Teva CEO Kåre Schultz in July.

In Monday’s announcement, Schultz said “the Texas Attorney General is taking steps to address the opioid epidemic in the State by negotiating a settlement that includes critical medicines as part of their solution. Expanding access to lifesaving medicines is at the core of Teva’s mission.”

“While the settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing by Teva or its affiliates, it remains in the best interest of Teva to put these cases behind us and continue to focus on the patients we serve every day,” he added.

In mid-December, a federal judge rejected OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s sweeping deal to settle thousands of lawsuits over the toll of opioids.

Teva has faced other legal troubles in the US. In August 2020, the US sued Teva for artificially raising the price of Copaxone, an immunomodulator medication used to treat multiple sclerosis, and other drugs.

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

AP contributed to this report.

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