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Teva Pharmaceuticals found to be responsible for its role in the opioid epidemic in New York state

By Lauren del Valle and Evan Simko-Bednarski, CNN

A New York jury ruled Thursday in a landmark trial that Teva Pharmaceuticals contributed to decades of opioid addiction and deaths in New York state.

The jury’s decision marks a conclusion to New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against a wide swath of the pharmaceutical supply chain including major manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies.

“Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and others misled the American people about the true dangers of opioids, which is why, in 2019, I made a promise that our team would hold them and the other manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid epidemic accountable for the suffering that they have caused,” James said in a news release after the verdict was read Thursday.

The suit initially targeted six pharmaceutical manufacturers and their affiliates, along with members of the Sackler family, and four opioid distributors when it was filed in March 2019. Following a series of settlements and bankruptcy declarations by early December, Teva was the only defendant remaining.

“Another trial will be held at a later date to determine how much Teva and other parties will be required to pay, which will be added to the up to $1.5 billion Attorney General James has already negotiated for the state of New York from different opioid manufacturers and distributors,” the Attorney General’s office said in a news release.

In a statement to CNN, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA said it disagrees with the outcome and will plan for a “swift appeal” and continue seeking a mistrial.

“In NY, the plaintiffs presented no evidence of medically unnecessary prescriptions, suspicious or diverted orders, no evidence of oversupply by the defendants — or any indication of what volumes were appropriate — and no causal relationship between Teva’s conduct including its marketing and any harm to the public in the state,” the company said in its statement.

Johnson & Johnson settled with the state to the tune of $230 million in June 2021, followed soon after by a $1.1 billion settlement with distribution companies McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc. and Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation.

September saw Endo Health Solutions settle its involvement in the suit for $50 million, according to James’ office.

Allergan Finance LLC, whose subsidiaries engaged in the sale of opioid drugs, settled with the state on Wednesday, the day closing arguments in the suit began, according to Fabien Levy, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office.

Several other defendants in the initial suit, including Purdue Pharma and distributor Rochester Drug Cooperative, have declared bankruptcy, and the cases against them are moving through the bankruptcy court system.

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