The U.S. arm of a pharmaceutical firm that last month announced an international partnership with an Israel-based medical cannabis company was found guilty by a Suffolk County, New York jury last week of contributing to the region’s opioid crisis, the Associated Press reports.
In their verdict against Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., the jury found the drug company played a role in the opioid crisis — which is legally called a public nuisance but contributed to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the past 20 years.
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), called the verdict a “significant day” for the state, nation, and “for every family and community torn apart by opioids.”
“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 in a press release
A separate trial will determine what Teva will have to pay in the case and James’ office indicated that the payment would be on top of the $1.5 billion for New York from settlements with drugmakers already negotiated by the attorney general. Teva was the sole manufacturing defendant left in the lawsuit, which targeted several opioid producers and distributors.
Teva told the AP that it “strongly disagrees” with the verdict and plans to appeal.
“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 a statement following the verdict.
The company noted that as recently as last month, a California court issued a decision finding that Teva did not cause a public nuisance in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Santa Clara County, and the City of Oakland and that the firm did not make any false or misleading statements in connection with marketing prescription opioids in California.
Last month, Teva Israel announced a partnership with Cannabit-Tikun Olam on a marketing and distribution deal for medical cannabis products in Israel, Palestine, and eventually Ukraine.
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