The Rhode Island attorney general announced a settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals and several of its affiliates worth about $100 million, including $21 million in cash in addition to drug donations to treat opioid addiction, that was reached ahead of opening arguments in the state’s trial over the company’s alleged role in the opioid crisis.
The deal ends claims brought by Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha that Teva and several of its affiliates helped fuel the opioid epidemic in the Ocean State by overselling the benefits of opioids while downplaying their risks of addiction. Teva had been the sole defendant in the case after the attorney general struck deals with other drug companies.
Naloxone is used to rapidly reverse overdoses in emergencies.
The settlement came after a brief delay in the trial, which was originally scheduled to start on March 16, 2022 but was pushed back several days. Other opioid trials have seen delays right before settlement announcements. In 2019, two Ohio counties reached a $260 million deal with Teva and three drug distributors after a trial in the federal multidistrict litigation over the opioid crisis was delayed. In July, jury orientation was underway in a Tennessee suit against Endo Pharmaceuticals when a sudden weeklong delay was followed by a $35 million settlement.
Teva will pay $21 million over the course of 13 years. Over the next decade, Teva will also provide to the state 50,000 kits of overdose medication Naloxone a year, valued at $62.5 million. In addition, the drugmaker will supply $16 million worth of Suboxone, a medication that treats opioid use disorder.
Another firm unrelated to Teva, Allergan, will pay $7.5 million.
So far in the wave of trials nationally in the opioid litigation, Teva has taken two cases all the way to verdict. While it won last year in California court with other drugmakers, it lost in December when a jury found that it was liable for causing the opioid crisis in New York.
Teva is now facing another trial in the case, this one to set remedies. New York state is seeking tens of billions of dollars in damages.
In the Rhode Island trial, Teva had been expected to argue that the state must single out specific prescriptions that were inappropriate in order to prove that opioid marketing was improper.
Teva proposed a global settlement in 2019 that included mainly drug donations valued at $26 billion, but the proposal never got off the ground. However, in recent months, Teva has made deals with specific states — such as a $225 million deal with Texas in February — which include drug donations, as well as large cash payments.
In September, Teva also agreed to pay the state of Louisiana $15 million to end opioid claims, with an additional donation of $3 million worth of anti-addiction medications.