Jury finds company liable for NY opioid crisis

A jury on Thursday found drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals liable for fueling the opioid crisis in New York.

Jurors concluded that the actions by Teva and its subsidiaries helped create a “public nuisance” by flooding the state with pills that killed thousands of people. The public nuisance argument is being used by plaintiffs in thousands of other opioid lawsuits nationwide.

The lawsuit was first filed in 2019 and the verdict came after a six-month trial that began with dozens of defendants across the pharmaceutical supply chain. Eventually, all other defendants except for Teva and its subsidiary companies reached multimillion-dollar settlements.

Initially, the New York attorney general filed suit against six manufacturers as well as the largest distributors in the country.

The lawsuit was the first of its kind to target companies that made the drugs along with distributors and pharmacies that filled prescriptions. It was argued jointly by the state as well as Suffolk and Nassau counties.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said other settlements from manufacturers and distributors have netted about $1.5 billion.

“While no amount of money will ever compensate for the human suffering, the addiction, or the lives lost due to opioid abuse, we will immediately push to move forward with a trial to determine how much Teva and others will pay,” James said in a statement.

Teva in a statement said it would “swiftly” appeal the verdict.

The jury did not award damages, that amount will be decided at a later date.