Israel's Teva Pharmaceuticals Is Last Defendant in N.Y. Opioid Trial

Lawyers for the state and New York counties argued that the companies used deceptive marketing and failed to monitor and report suspicious orders of opioids as required by law

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Opioid pill bottles
Opioid pill bottlesCredit: Patrick Semansky/AP
Yoram Gabison
Yoram Gabison

Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is the only remaining defendant in a public-nuisance trial against manufacturers and distributors of opioid painkillers in New York State.

On Wednesday the state and AbbVie’s Allergan subsidiary reached an agreement under which the company will pay the state and two Long Island counties up to $200 million to settle the claim that it contributed to the opioid crisis in the state. The terms were reported in The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets.

The settlement leaves Teva and its Anda unit alone in the lawsuit.

All other defendants reached agreements with the New York State attorney general’s office, totaling about $1.5 billion, led by Attorney General Letitia James.

Lawyers for the state and Nassau and Suffolk counties, two of the largest counties in New York, argued that the pharmaceutical and distribution companies used deceptive marketing practices and failed to monitor and report suspicious orders of opioids in accordance with the law. The settlement was reached on the day that jurors were expected to hear closing arguments at the end of the five-month trial, Reuters reported.

The prosecutors claimed that the defendants’ actions contributed to the opioid addiction epidemic, which diverted billions of dollars in spending by county and state authorities on services including health, welfare and law enforcement.

The Pennsylvania offices of Teva Pharmaceuticals North America in 2005.Credit: AP Photo/George Widman

Teva’s attorney Harvey Bartle said in his summation Wednesday that the state and the two counties failed to prove that Teva had engaged in misleading marketing, failed to employ systems for monitoring suspicious opioid orders or caused an oversupply of the addictive painkillers in the state and counties.

Bartle claimed that the state failed to stop a small number of physicians from overprescribing opioids.

In a closing argument lasting two and a half hours, Bartle said that Teva manufactured and marketed drugs in accordance with the regulations of federal authorities at levels that were set by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Bartle reviewed for the jury witness testimony that he said proved the state was unable to present documents showing the quantities of opioids that were sold to the two counties, or whether any were diverted from the supervised distribution system, which includes hospitals and pharmacies, for illegal use.

“They have not identified a single suspicious order and not a single order of diverted medicine,” The Wall Street Journal quoted Bartle saying.

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