U.S. Opioid Settlement With Israel's Teva Estimated at $99.5 Million

The settlement is not 'an admission of wrongdoing,' Israel's Teva claims, while Rhode Island says no sum of money can 'undo the harm' caused by the opioid epidemic

FILE: 5-mg pills of Oxycodone.
FILE: 5-mg pills of Oxycodone.Credit: Keith Srakocic /AP

Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries on Monday said it had reached a settlement with Rhode Island valued at some $99.5 million that settles the state's opioid-related claims.

The drugmaker said it agreed to pay Rhode Island $21 million in cash over 13 years and to deliver anti-overdose and addiction treatments valued at $78.5 million over the next 10 years.

Rhode Island's attorney general on Monday announced the Teva settlement together with the deal it struck with AbbVie's Allergan unit to resolve claims over their roles in fueling an opioid epidemic in the state. He said the total value of the settlements for both companies came to about $107 million: $28.5 million in cash, plus a combined total of 1 million Naloxone sprays and 67,000 bottles of Suboxone pills delivered to Rhode Island over 10 years.

"While no amount of money will ever be enough to undo the harm suffered by Rhode Islanders throughout the ongoing opioid epidemic, these additional recoveries will further support public health efforts to respond to the challenges," Attorney General Peter Neronha said.

Teva, the world's largest generic drug company, called its settlement "a critical step forward in getting life-saving treatments to the people who need them."

“This settlement agreement is not an admission of any liability or wrongdoing and the company will continue to defend itself in court, in states where we have not reached terms of a settlement agreement,” the statement added.

Teva said it was still "actively" negotiating a national settlement. Teva Chief Executive Kåre Schultz told Reuters last month the company will likely end up paying $2.7 billion to $3.6 billion in cash and drugs to settle all U.S. state and local government claims.

AbbVie, which acquired Allergan in 2020, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The settlement was reached just as Rhode Island was prepared to take Teva to trial. Jury selection began last week, and opening arguments were set to begin on Monday.

The Rhode Island lawsuit is one of more than 3,300 filed by state, local and Native American tribal governments across the country accusing drugmakers of minimizing the addiction risks of opioid pain medications.

More than 500,000 people have died due to opioid overdoses in the past two decades, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rhode Island valued Teva's contributed medicines at $78.5 million. The company reached a similar $225 million settlement recently with Texas, which included $75 million in contributed drugs.

Concerns about the value of those drugs have been a sticking point in Teva's attempt to reach nationwide settlement agreement. Hunter Shkolnik, a lawyer who represents opioid plaintiffs in other cases, called the use of the list price a "smoke and mirrors" technique that artificially inflates the settlement's value.

Vincent Greene, an attorney who represented Rhode Island in the Teva case, said the inclusion of treatment drugs will "save lives immediately and in the years to come." Rhode Island has reached all-cash settlements from other defendants, giving the state more flexibility to accept non-cash contributions from Teva, Greene added.

Other defendants in the Rhode Island case settled long before the trial, including the largest U.S. drug distributors McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp and Cardinal Health Inc. Those three companies joined a nationwide $21 billion settlement.

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