Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter says that the state has reached an $85 million settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals in return for the company’s role in “fueling the state’s opioid epidemic.” Hunter said he plans to put the 85 million dollars towards healing those impacted by the opioid crisis in Oklahoma.
In a press release, Hunter said, “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 Hunter said. “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.”
Oklahoma is also suing Johnson & Johnson, in a suit that will come to court on May 28.
Here’s what you need to know about Teva Pharmaceuticals:
1. Oklahoma’s Attorney General Charges that Teva Created a ‘Public Nuisance’ by Downplaying Drugs’ Addictive Qualities
The opioid epidemic has been linked to a record 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hunter says that both Teva and Johnson & Johnson created a ‘public nuisance,’ downplaying the addictive risks of their drugs and exaggerating the drugs’ benefits. Court papers say that this created a “devastating cycle of over-prescription’’ that was “built on addiction, dependence and a market saturated with misinformation regarding the benefits and safety of those drugs.” Teva reached an $85 million settlement with Oklahoma. The case against Johnson & Johnson will open in court on May 27.
2. Teva Grew Out of a Small Drug Company Founded in Jerusalem in 1900
In 1901, Chaim Salomon, Moshe Levin and Yitschak Elstein founded a small wholesale drug company in Jerusalem. They named their company S.L.E. after the founders’ initials. After 1930, the company opened a number of pharmaceutical plants and supplied the British Army during World War Two. The company began to expand rapidly after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Teva started trading on the Tel Aviv stock exchange in 1951 under the name Teva Middle East Pharmaceutical Chemical Works Company Ltd.
3. Teva Was Once Seen as a Symbol of Israeli Success, but Struggled Financially After Acquiring Actavis Generics
In 2016, Teva had a market cap of $61 billion, a record high for the company. But the company’s stock value plummetted after that peak, so that by 2019, it had declined by 80 percent. Market watchers say the decline can be attributed to Teva’s acquisition of Actavis Generics from Allergen for $40.5 billion in 2015. The company also struggled as the price of generic drugs fell, following the election of Donald Trump as the FDA began to fast-track approval of generic drugs.
4. Teva Also Faces a Case in Cleveland, OH Charging That it Contributed to the Opioid Epidemic
Teva is one of many drug companies facing charges in Cleveland, Ohio in a case which asserts that the drug companies contributed to the opioid crisis. Drug companies are accused of knowing about the problems connected to opioid addiction, but failing to take meaningful steps to help solve those problems.
After settling the case in Oklahoma, Teva released a statement indicating that it would be putting its energy into the upcoming case in Cleveland. The statement read, in part, “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.”
5. Teva Also Faces a Separate Case Accusing it of Colluding with Other Companies to Fix the Prices of Generic Drugs
44 states have brought a lawsuit against Teva and 19 other pharmaceutical companies for allegedly colluding to raise the prices of generic drugs. The lawsuit charges that the companies sometimes raised the drug prices by as much as 1000 percent and that they stifled competition from other companies. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who is leading the lawsuit, says the companies conspired to fix prices for more than 100 medications.
Teva is the largest producer of generic drugs in the world.