26 May Opioid firm Teva agrees $85m settlement days before Oklahoma case goes to court | US News
A drugs firm has agreed to pay $85m to settle a lawsuit brought by the state of Oklahoma over its role in the US opioid crisis.
Businesses tied to Israel-based firm Teva Pharmaceuticals were named by the state as responsible for an epidemic of deaths connected to prescription opioids.
The opioid crisis resulted in a record 48,000 overdose deaths across the US in 2017, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
State officials in Oklahoma have accused the pharmaceutical giants of fraudulent marketing that led to thousands of these overdoses and deaths.
Settling the state of Oklahoma’s claims against the six companies which fall under Teva’s umbrella means the firm will avoid going to court on Tuesday when a long-awaited civil suit is set to begin.
In its statement, the company said: “The settlement does not establish any wrongdoing on the part of the company; Teva has not contributed to the abuse of opioids in Oklahoma in any way.”
Teva was only the second group of defendants to settle in the case. The first, Purdue Pharma, which manufactures painkiller OxyContin, paid Oklahoma $270m back in March.
According to state attorney general Mike Hunter, the terms of the Teva settlement could take up to two weeks to finalise, but the funds have been pledged towards efforts tackling the opioid crisis in Oklahoma.
The state’s trial against the remaining defendant, Johnson & Johnson, will take place on Tuesday.
Mr Hunter said the announcement was “a testament to the state’s legal team’s countless hours and resources preparing for this trial”.
He praised the legal team’s “dedication and resolve to hold the defendants in this case accountable for the ongoing opioid overdose and addiction epidemic”.
“Nearly all Oklahomans have been negatively impacted by this deadly crisis and we look forward to Tuesday, where we will prove our case against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries,” Mr Hunter added.
Oklahoma alleges that the pharmaceutical giants created damage which could cost up to $17.5bn (£13.7bn) to fix.
A British company, Indivior, was not part of the Oklahoma suit but is among many which have been accused in the US of criminal conduct in deceiving doctors by claiming their opiods were safer and less susceptible to abuse than others.
Indivior faces charges of conspiracy, health care fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud and could be made to forfeit at least $3bn (£2.29bn) if convicted.
According to The New York Times, there are nearly 1,900 similar lawsuits across the US and participants will be watching the Oklahoma suit to see how the evidence and legal strategies play out.
Earlier this month, the founder of a multi-billion dollar drug company was convicted of bribing doctors to prescribe its highly addictive fentanyl spray to patients who did not need it.
John Kapoor and four other former employees of Insys Therapeutics are now facing up to 20 years in prison on the racketeering conspiracy charges.