Israeli Pharma Giant Teva Found Responsible for Opioid Addiction Epidemic in New York Trial
19:00 GMT 30.12.2021 (Updated: 13:27 GMT 06.08.2022)
The explosion of powerful, readily available painkillers on the US market has helped drive a massive increase in overdose deaths as Americans attempt to self-medicate chronic illnesses. Half a million have died in the past 20 years from opioid overdoses, but only recently has the government attempted to reign in the corporate drug makers.
A New York jury ruled on Thursday that Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and some of its units had helped to create the opioid addiction epidemic in the United States through its marketing and distribution of painkillers.
The ruling did not address the subject of damages, but it opens the Petah Tikva-based corporation up to lawsuits by claimants.
While other companies in the case reached separate settlements with the State of New York, which required them to pay a total of $1.7 billion in fines, Teva and its subsidiary, including Anda and Cephalon, remained defiant until the end.
The state argued that by using deceptive advertising and failing to adequately monitor or report suspicious orders of large amounts of opium-based painkillers in New York’s Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Anda caused state and county authorities to divert billions of dollars in spending toward law enforcement, health and welfare costs needed to address various effects of a massive opioid trade.
In turn, Teva argued it had followed existing state and federal regulations on drug marketing and distribution, and that tracking pharmacists’ behavior was the state’s job, not theirs.
“While no amount of money will ever compensate for the human suffering, the addiction, or the lives lost due to opioid abuse, this money will be essential in helping every corner of the state - from the North Country to Western New York, from the Southern Tier to Long Island, and up and down the Hudson - recover from this epidemic,” New York Attorney General Leticia James said in a statement following conclusion of the trial on December 14.
The growing epidemic of opioid addiction and associated death, which has topped 500,000 over the last two decades, has led to both state and federal pushback on the pharmaceutical giants who produce them.
Unique among industrialized nations, the US has no public health care or insurance system, beyond the truncated Medicaid program for the extremely poor and the Medicare system that provides elderly care. According to Census statistics, 28 million Americans, or 8.6% of the population, have no health insurance, and several times that number have inadequate insurance.
In one case in 2019, an Oklahoma judge found Johnson & Johnson guilty of driving the opioid epidemic in the Sooner State, fining the company $475 million. However, last month, the state’s supreme court threw the ruling out following an appeal by J&J, saying the company couldn’t be held liable for the public health disaster.
That decision came just days after a California court ruled the same in a case involving J&J as well as Teva, Endo, and Allergan.
Also in November, a federal jury in Ohio found three of the nation’s biggest pharmacy chains - CVS, Walgreens and Walmart - guilty of fueling the epidemic, as well.