A jury in Suffolk County, New York, found Teva Pharmaceutical liable for their role in the opioid epidemic, alongside a long list of other companies involved in the trade. Teva makes powerful pain medications using the powerful opioid fentanyl.
In fact, between April 2020 and April 2021, overdose deaths from opioids totaled over 75,000, an increase of nearly 25,000. Most of those deaths involved fentanyl, a drug almost 50 times as potent as heroin.
What Teva Pharmaceutical Did
A Suffolk County jury decided that Teva played a role in what is legally termed a “public nuisance.” The nuisance, however, also involved over 500,00 deaths in the past twenty years.
Most of the charges related to the promotion and marketing of fentanyl, which is similar to what the makers of Oxycontin were convicted of in recent years.
Teva is known for making generic drugs, and the pills that contained fentanyl went by the brand names Actiq and Fentora. Originally meant to be supplied to people with painful cancer, the jury found that the drugs were marketed under a “deceptive and dangerous marketing strategy,” the lawsuit said. As a result, not only did cancer patients get the drug; it was used for many types of less severe pain, leading many people down the path of addiction.
The lawsuit said that drug manufacturers purposefully collaborated to mislead doctors and patients. They worked to downplay the severe risks of opioid addiction. They even were accused of circumventing checks and balances in the pharmaceutical industry that helped limit the number of prescriptions a doctor could prescribe.
All in all, the state of New York has suffered a lot from opioids. Fentanyl-involved deaths were present in 85% of overdose deaths in 2020.
A separate trial will follow to determine what Teva will have to pay in the case. Many companies have gone with large settlements to avoid trial discovery, but Teva fought in court and lost. They plan to appeal the verdict, saying that they disagree strongly with the allegations in the lawsuit.