An Israel-based pharmaceutical company has agreed to an $85 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma over its alleged role in fueling the opioid crisis.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter had accused Teva Pharmaceuticals of creating a public nuisance through its production and marketing of opioids. In a statement announcing the settlement, Teva said the agreement "does not establish any wrongdoing on the part of the company." Teva also said it "has not contributed to the abuse of opioids in Oklahoma in any way."
The settlement makes Teva the second company to settle with Oklahoma over the opioid epidemic. In March, Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, agreed to a $270 million settlement with the state. Teva, the world's largest generic drugmaker, had been due to appear in court on Tuesday alongside Johnson & Johnson.
"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," Hunter said in a statement.
Hunter says the money from the Teva settlement will go towards combating the opioid crisis. State attorneys expect it will take between $12.7 billion and $17.5 billion over a 20 to 30-year period to abate Oklahoma's opioid crisis, according to The Oklahoman.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdoses involving opioids were responsible for more than 47,000 deaths in 2017 alone. The CDC says 36% of those deaths involved prescription opioids.
In April, a poll released by NPR and Ipsos found that a third of Americans have been touched directly by the opioid epidemic. The survey found that 57% of Americans felt pharmaceutical companies should be held responsible for making the crisis worse.
"It's something, no matter your age, your gender, no matter where you live, your party affiliation, that people believe in large numbers," said Mallory Newall, the lead Ipsos researcher on the survey.
Paul Ten Haken, the Mayor of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, tweeted that the "Oklahoma case is being closely watched by plaintiffs in other opioid cases, including South Dakota and 1,850 other mostly municipal and state governments that have sued the same drug makers."
Johnson & Johnson will continue to face trial for its alleged role in the opioid crisis, and is scheduled to appear in court this Tuesday.
"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," Hunter said in a statement.
You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for. If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.