The jury found the drug manufacturer Teva fueled opioid addiction in New York

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NEW YORK, Dec. 30 (Reuters) – Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (TEVA.TA) fueled opioid addiction in New York state, a jury on Thursday found a setback for a company still grappling with thousands of other opioid-related lawsuits in the United States is faced.

The verdict, delivered after nearly six months of litigation in New York State in a state and two boroughs case, does not include claims for damages that will be determined later. The jury deliberated more than eight days before reaching a verdict.

Teva stock, which had traded higher, fell more than 7 percentage points in New York after the decision. In afternoon trading, they fell 40 cents, or 4.7%, to $ 8.03.

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New York attorney general Letitia James called the result “an important day” for the state and for “every family and community torn apart by opioids”. Jayne Conroy and Hunter Shkolnik, who represent Suffolk and Nassau counties, respectively, also hailed him as a “massive victory”.

In a statement, the company said, “Teva Pharmaceuticals disagrees with today’s outcome and will prepare for a prompt appeal and pursue a wrongful proceeding.” The state and counties presented “no evidence of medically unnecessary prescriptions, suspicious or diverted orders.”

New York and the boroughs had accused the Israel-based drug maker of misleading marketing practices that fueled opioid addiction in the state, including promoting drugs for off-label use.

They focused on Actiq and Fentora, cancer pain relievers from Cephalon Inc, a company that Teva bought in 2011, as well as generic opioids sold by Teva.


The New York lawsuit is one of more than 3,300 lawsuits filed by state, local, and Native American tribal governments across the country accusing drug makers of minimizing addiction to opioid pain relievers and distributors and pharmacies ignoring warning signs that they are diverted to illegal channels.

The judge in the case is still examining Teva’s complaint of malpractice after a state attorney cited inaccurate opioid prescription statistics in his closing argument. If the verdict stands, it could put pressure on Teva to reach a nationwide settlement with other states and local governments on opioid claims.

Evidence in court included a parody video filmed for a 2006 Cephalon sales meeting in which the villain Dr Courtroom scene in the movie “A Few Good Men,” where a Cephalon employee tells a lawyer played by Tom Cruise that he is “Can’t Handle the Truth” is what sales reps have to do to meet quotas.

In court, Teva attributed an increase in opioid prescriptions to a change in medical standards of treatment that focused on pain management in the early 1990s.

It also said its opioid sales were in compliance with federal and New York state regulations. The jury saw complicity on the part of the state and assigned it a responsibility of 10%.

US officials said the health crisis had resulted in nearly 500,000 deaths from opioid overdose in two decades by 2019. More than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the 12 months ending April 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report in November, a record largely attributable to deaths from opioids like fentanyl .

Other defendants in the case were settled before or during the trial – major pharmacies, distributors McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp, and Cardinal Health Inc, as well as drug makers Johnson & Johnson, Endo International Plc, and AbbVie Inc. AbbVie’s $ 200 million settlement came in whole at the end of the trial, on the day of the closing speech.

The deal with J&J and the distributors was part of a nationwide deal worth up to $ 26 billion. Teva did not participate in this deal.

Teva previously prevailed in a similar case when a California judge ruled Nov. 2 that Teva and other drug companies were not liable in a lawsuit filed by multiple counties in the state.

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy in 2019, hoping to settle a spate of lawsuits about the pain reliever through a deal in which the company’s former owners, the Sackler family, received $ 4.5 billion in exchange for immunity would pay future lawsuits. However, a federal judge denied the deal on Dec. 17, a decision the company should appeal against.

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Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York, editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Howard Goller

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Brendan Pierson

Brendan Pierson reports on product liability disputes and all areas of health law. He can be reached at

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