Teva to settle opioid-related claims in Florida for $117 million

In latest settlement, mirroring past ones, US subsidiary of Israeli generic drugmaker to provide over $84m worth of treatment medicines

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 drugmaker giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, will pay the US state of Florida $117 million to settle opioid-related claims against the company and provide doses of generic medicines that treat opioid addiction, valued at $84 million.

Florida also settled with CVS Health Corp. and CVS Pharmacy Inc., which will pay the state $484 million, as well as a number of other defendants for a combined $860 million, including with Teva.

According to the settlement agreement with Teva, the $117 million will be paid to Florida over a period of 15 years, and doses of Narcan (naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray) will be made available over 10 years, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

The deal comes a week after Teva settled similar claims in Rhode Island for $21 million. It also included $78.5 million of generic medicines that aid in opioid addiction and recovery — doses of Narcan and buprenorphine naloxone, an opioid medication in tablet form known by the brand name Suboxone.

Teva has been facing legal proceedings in Louisiana, California, Texas and New York, settling the claims separately. These lawsuits are part of 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.

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 has said that it is actively looking to negotiate a national settlement, as other drugmakers have done.

The company said Wednesday that the settlements were “not an admission of any liability or wrongdoing, and that it would “continue to defend itself in court in states where we have not reached terms of a settlement agreement.”

Pharmaceutical companies and distributors have been 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).

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

Last month, Johnson & Johnson and three major distributors (AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson) finalized nationwide settlements worth $26 billion over their role in the opioid addiction crisis.

Teva was initially part of this group, which, in 2019, offered a settlement valued at $48 billion combined. 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, Teva CEO Kåre Schultz said last July.

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

AP contributed to this report.

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