Opioid maker Teva agrees to $4.25 billion tentative deal

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Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceuticals has agreed to a proposed $4.25 billion settlement to resolve thousands of lawsuits brought by states, other jurisdictions and, for the first time in a national settlement, Native American tribes over the opioid epidemic.

Among the lesser-known generic drug makers that have produced billions of opioids, Teva announced on Tuesday that it had tentatively agreed with state attorneys general, tribal leaders and a group of lawyers representing cities and counties across the country. country to end a long and costly legal battle against the communities. who argued that the company had misled doctors about its addictive fentanyl products for cancer patients.

If the deal is finalized, the company will pay $3 billion in cash and $1.2 billion in donations of Narcan, the drug that reverses overdoses, over 13 years. About $100 million would be distributed to the tribes.

The sum includes $650 million that the company has already agreed to pay when settling cases with Texas, Florida, West Virginia and others.

Governments that sign the agreement can choose to receive the overdose drugs rather than the cash, Teva said.

The National Panel of Plaintiffs’ Attorneys representing thousands of cities and counties in the opioid litigation called the settlement a “vital step” that would offer help to those on the front lines of the outbreak. More than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021, according to federal data, a record high.

“We encourage all of these groups to sign this agreement to allow these resources to reach those in need as quickly as possible,” the committee said in a statement after the agreement was announced.

The attorneys general involved in the negotiations announced the news of the agreement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong called it “a significant breakthrough in our fight to hold the entire drug addiction industry accountable,” and California Attorney General Rob Bonta said he “will bring much-needed relief to the victims.”

“Teva downplayed the risk of addiction when it marketed its opioids and overstated the potential benefits, misleading doctors and patients,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. “Today’s settlement ensures that Teva will pay for its irresponsible actions, with funds going directly to Pennsylvania communities hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.”

Teva has denied accusations in the litigation that it legally produces generics and markets its branded fentanyl lozenges Actiq and Fentora.

The company, which shared news of the deal in its second-quarter earnings report, would donate more than $2.7 billion to $3.6 billion, lineup chief executive Kare Schultz estimated for settlement in February. Last year, Teva made approximately $16 billion in sales worldwide.

“While the agreement will not include any admissions of wrongdoing, it remains in our best interest to put these cases behind us and continue to focus on the patients we serve every day,” the company said in a statement. tuesday.

The agreement depends on several factors: the final conditions should be ironed out in writing in the “coming weeks”; Allergan, a generics maker acquired by Teva in 2016, must also sign; and a large majority of governments suing the company must agree to the deal once it is finalized.

The deal comes after a New York jury found the company responsible for the state’s opioid crisis in December. New York did not join the national accord, and the company said it was still negotiating with the state and its communities.

There are no more trials scheduled against Teva in 2022.

The deal also follows several others with similar terms. The three biggest wholesalers – AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson – agreed to a $21 billion nationwide settlement alongside a $5 billion deal with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is moving forward with a $10 billion bankruptcy plan to resolve litigation and become a public company. Mallinckrodt, the leading opioid maker, has reached a $1.6 billion nationwide settlement in bankruptcy court.

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, one of the nation’s largest opioid producers, filed for bankruptcy in 2020. Depositions from top executives were released on May 10. (Video: Leila Barghouty, Luis Velarde/The Washington Post)

The Teva agreement is a first in one important respect: other agreements that pharmaceutical companies have with states and communities generally do not include Native American tribes. The tribes generally made their agreements after the states. At the same time, the increase in drug overdose deaths has disproportionately affected Indigenous peoples in the United States. (The toll rose 39% among Native Americans compared to a 22% increase among whites in 2020, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Friday.)

Lloyd Miller, a senior lawyer for the tribes, called their inclusion in the Teva deal “game changers for future litigation.”

“This reflects a fundamental shift in the development of the law toward greater parity between tribal and state governments,” Miller wrote in an email.

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