A New York jury found Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, an opioid manufacturer, liable on Thursday for public nuisance by way of inundating the state with pills that killed thousands of people. This lawsuit is one in a series of state and federal proceedings against drug companies involved in the opioid crisis.
“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,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James in a statement following the verdict, adding: “This is a significant day for New York state. This is a significant day for this nation. But, more importantly, this is a significant day for every family and community torn apart by opioids.”
The case was initially brought in 2019 in Suffolk County by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The lawsuit listed six drug manufacturers, the Sackler family (Purdue Pharma), and four drug distributors.
Drug manufacturers and distributors named in the lawsuit were officially charged with public nuisance for their role in fueling the opioid crisis in New York. The lawsuit cited drug companies’ deliberate betrayal of their duty to protect against drug abuse.
In a trial that lasted six months, James argued that Teva Pharmaceuticals deliberately misrepresented the addictive qualities of opioids through deceptive marketing techniques. As a result, thousands of New York residents died and the state and counties accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars in addiction treatment bills and other expenses. Thursday’s decision indicates that jurors agreed with James’ argument.
Another hearing will be held to determine how much Teva Pharmaceuticals owes in damages to New York. In a statement, James said the funds recovered from the lawsuit will be used to invest in opioid treatment, recovery, and education programs.
Other drug companies listed in the lawsuit have since settled or moved into bankruptcy proceedings. Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, also listed in the suit, have escaped any action thus far. The New York Attorney General Office stated they will continue their push to hold Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family accountable.