Teva gets its US opioid settlement over the finish line

Teva gets its US opioid settlement over the finish line

After years of legal horse-trading, Teva looks like it has finally finalised a settlement that should allow it to put litigation over its role in fuelling the US opioid epidemic in its rear-view mirror.

In an update posted today, the drugmaker said it has now reached agreements with all 50 states, as well as 99% of subdivisions – such as cities, counties, and tribal governments – clearing the way for the $4.25 billion programme to get underway.

The deal required a separate, last-ditch agreement with the state of Nevada, which will receive $193 million over 20 years. Another holdout – New Mexico – settled last year.

In a statement, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said that the total settlement money paid to the state by several manufacturers and other companies operating in the pharma supply chain has reached almost $850 million. The total paid across all states is now estimated to be running at around $50 billion.

Teva said it plans to make the first payments under the settlement in the second half of this year, and has already started shipments of a generic version of its Narcan (naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray) therapy for opioid overdose reversal.

The settlement terms include around $3 billion in cash payments, as well as the supply of $1.2 billion-worth of Narcan to emergency services and programmes that provide care to people with opioid use disorder.

“While the final agreement includes no admission of wrongdoing, it remains in the company’s best interest – and in the interest of those impacted by the opioid crisis – to conclude this settlement and for Teva to continue to focus on the patients it serves every day,” it said.

Late last month, another drugmaker embroiled in opioid litigation – Purdue Pharma – moved a step closer to a $10 billion settlement, after an appeals judge ruled that the Sackler family that owns the company will be protected from civil lawsuits, as part of their own $6 billion deal.

The judge ruled that if lawsuits were permitted against them, Purdue would not be able to reach a deal as the two cases were inextricably linked.

The opioid crisis was initially declared a public health emergency in the US in 2017, and drug overdoses have claimed around 932,000 lives since 1999.

Just over 100,000 US citizens died of drug overdoses during the year to April 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an increase of nearly 29% from the previous year, with opioids involved in around three quarters of fatalities.