Drug company found liable in landmark opioid case

Pharmaceutical company Teva is facing numerous other opioid-related lawsuits around the US

A New York jury has found Teva Pharmaceutical Industries liable in helping to fuel opioid addiction in the state, with damages set to be determined later.

Following Thursday’s decision, which came after more than a week of deliberations, Teva released a statement saying they “strongly disagree” with the outcome of the six-month-long trial and they are preparing a “swift appeal.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James meanwhile called Thursday a “significant day” for all those negatively impacted by opioids, and said the legal action was only one part of a longer plan to continue holding “manufacturers and distributors” of opioids accountable. 

The lawsuit, taken by the state and two of its counties, accused Teva of using manipulative and misleading marketing to push more opioids, fueling the addiction crisis that has hit New York, as well as numerous other parts of America. 

The judge presiding over the case still has to make a ruling on a request for a mistrial, based on a statistic cited by the prosecution in their closing arguments that was false. Teva’s shares tumbled several points less than an hour after the verdict.

READ MORE: New York gets $200 million settlement in opioid lawsuit

The New York lawsuit is a landmark case as it is at the center of a massive legal undertaking to target every part of the opioid supply chain, including manufacturers and distributors. If this verdict stands and leads to significant damages, it could pressure Teva and other companies to settle the thousands of other pending lawsuits across the country related to opioid addiction rates spiking in recent years due to what critics say is a system that over-prescribes and does not sufficiently warn patients about the highly addictive substance. 

Other drug manufacturers were included in New York’s lawsuit, including AbbVie, which settled its lawsuit earlier this month for the price of $200 million. Teva was the sole defendant following AbbVie’s settlement. 

More than 100,000 people died of a drug overdose between April 2020 and April of 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a November report on the ongoing crisis. Officials have said more than 500,000 deaths can be linked to the opioid crisis in the last two decades.

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