Teva Planning Swift Appeal of Opioid Judgement in New York


Teva Pharmaceuticals will appeal a potential $1.5 billion judgment against the company in the state of New York for its alleged role in the opioid epidemic. The company said it is preparing a “swift appeal” and also plans to pursue a mistrial in the case.

Today, a New York jury in Suffolk County State Supreme Court found that Teva Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, was guilty of violating the rights of the people of the state under a public nuisance charge over the company’s marketing of its opioid products. New York Attorney General Letitia James celebrated the ruling, calling it “a significant day for every family and community torn apart by opioids.”

“A jury has found an opioid manufacturer responsible for the death and destruction they inflicted on the American people,” James said in a statement. “Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and others misled the American people about the true dangers of opioids, which is why, in 2019, I made a promise that our team would hold them and the other manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid epidemic accountable for the suffering that they have caused.”

A subsequent trial will be held to determine how much the pharmaceutical company will be required to pay under today’s ruling.

In the meantime, Teva said it strongly disagrees with the outcome and intends to try and overturn the ruling. The company said the plaintiffs presented no evidence of medically unnecessary prescriptions and no evidence of oversupply of the company’s opioid products. Teva also said there was no indication of what constituted appropriate volumes of its opioid medications. Additionally, the company said there was no proof offered of a “causal relationship between Teva’s conduct including its marketing and any harm to the public in the state.” Prior to jury deliberation, Teva filed for a mistrial based on what it called the state’s “misrepresentation” of the amount of opioids sold by the company in New York. Teva said that amount was exaggerated by the plaintiff by more than 500 times.

The New York Attorney General claimed Teva, as well as other manufacturers and distributors of opioids, fueled the opioid crisis by aggressive marketing of the medications, all while attempting to minimize the associated risks of addiction and abuse. The state’s legal team argued that Teva created a public nuisance that interfered with the rights of the public through that alleged aggressive marketing.

Last month though, Teva was cleared of nuisance charges in California over the sale of its opioids. The judge ruled that the company did not make any false or misleading statements in connection with marketing prescription opioids in California. Teva hopes that its appeals in New York will yield similar results.

The company noted that it hasn’t been the only pharmaceutical company to win an appeal against a public nuisance charge. Last month Johnson & Johnson emerged victorious in the Oklahoma Supreme Court after justices in that state overturned a 2019 $465 million landmark judgement against the life sciences giant. The state’s high court ruled that the public nuisance law in Oklahoma does not extend to the manufacturing, marketing and selling of prescription opioids.

While it appeals the New York verdict, Teva said it continues to pursue a national opioid settlement in the “best interest of patients.” The company added that it will strive to increase access to essential medicines for patients, including opioid medications for approved indications.

Teva has reached multiple settlements with several states over the marketing of its opioid products. Earlier this year, the company reached a $15 million settlement with Louisiana and previously reached a $20 million settlement with Ohio. That deal included the donation of an additional $25 million worth of Suboxone, a treatment for opioid addiction.  

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