Opioid Manufacturer Teva Reaches $85 Million Settlement With Oklahoma

By Kelly Burch 05/29/19

Teva did not acknowledge any wrongdoings in the settlement. 

Opioid Manufacturer Teva Reaches $85 Million Settlement With Oklahoma

The state of Oklahoma has reached an $85 million settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals, the world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs. 

The settlement was announced on Sunday, ahead of a trial slated to start on Tuesday (May 28). Purdue Pharma had previously reached a $270 million settlement with the state in the case, but the trial will move forward with Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries, which have not reached a settlement. 

“Today’s announcement is a testament to the state’s legal team’s countless hours and resources preparing for this trial and their dedication and resolve to hold the defendants in this case accountable for the ongoing opioid overdose and addiction epidemic that continues to claim thousands of lives each year,” Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a statement. “Nearly all Oklahomans have been negatively impacted by this deadly crisis and we look forward to Tuesday, where we will prove our case against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries.”

Teva, like Purdue, did not acknowledge any wrongdoings in the settlement. 

"The settlement does not establish any wrongdoing on the part of the company," Teva representatives said in a statement, according to The Oklahoman. "Teva has not contributed to the abuse of opioids in Oklahoma in any way.”

“The company has resolved this matter in a way that benefits the people who have suffered from abuse of opioids and to help stop the effects of the opioid crisis,” the statement said. That much is true—the state will allocate the funds to combat the opioid epidemic and increase access to treatment. 

Teva faces other ongoing opioid lawsuits, including a large suit in federal court in Ohio. 

“While the company has long stated that the courtroom is not a place to address the crisis, Teva is pleased to put the Oklahoma case behind it and remains prepared to vigorously defend claims against the company, including the upcoming federal court trial in Cleveland where the majority of the cases are pending," the company’s statement said. 

Hunter told NPR ahead of the trial’s start on Tuesday that he is confident that he can make the case that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries are responsible for the opioid epidemic in the state.

"We have looked at literally millions of documents, taken hundreds of depositions, and we are even more convinced that these companies are the proximate cause for the epidemic in our state and in our country," Hunter said.

Richard Ausness, a law professor at the University of Kentucky, said that the settlements and outcome in the Oklahoma case will set a precedent for the federal case. 

“Lurking in the background is the multi-state litigation in Cleveland, where there will ultimately be a settlement in all likelihood, but the size of the settlement and the terms of the settlement may be influenced by Oklahoma,” he said. 

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Kelly Burch Contrib.jpg

Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.