Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest manufacturers of generic opioids, announced a settlement in principle with some 2,500 local governments, states and tribes over the company’s role in the deadly, ongoing opioid epidemic, the New York Times reports. The deal — worth up to $4.25 billion — came after a series of blistering trials and previous settlements in individual cases across the U.S. over the past year. Though much lesser-known, Teva, an Israeli company, and its affiliates produced far more prescription opioids during the peak years of the crisis than marquee-name opioid manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson did. Its production of both generic and branded painkillers dwarfed the output of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, the medication most immediately associated with setting off an avalanche of overdoses and deaths. Under the deal, Teva would make payouts over 13 years, directed to state, local and tribal programs to ease the opioid crisis, which has deepened during the coronavirus pandemic.
The $4.25 billion total included the nearly $550 million in settlements the company had already struck as trials got underway in San Francisco as well as in Florida, West Virginia, Texas, Louisiana and Rhode Island. It also includes $119 million for about 570 tribes that will also receive overdose reversal medications. “This is not going to solve the opioid crisis for the tribes,” said Steven Skikos, a lawyer who represents tribes. “There is still significant work to do with the remaining defendants.” States, cities and counties can choose to accept a portion of their payouts in medications, rather than cash. The deal was negotiated by representatives for about a dozen state attorneys general. “Today’s announcement once again shows that those responsible for this tragic issue will be held accountable and help will be available to those affected by the opioid epidemic,” said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.