New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference at the Office of the Attorney General in New York on May 9, 2022, to make an announcement about protecting access to abortion.
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images
New York’s attorney general on Monday said Teva Pharmaceutical Industries lied to evade accountability for helping fuel the state’s opioid crisis, and should be restored to litigation where the Israeli company’s U.S. unit had been found liable.
In a court filing, Attorney General Letitia James said new evidence showed that a senior Teva tax executive had in a sworn affidavit made “demonstrably false” representations that the parent did not promote or sell opioids in the United States, or control Teva Pharmaceuticals USA’s finances or activities.
“This new evidence shows an even greater disregard for the pain and destruction that this company fueled,” and may constitute a “fraud on the court,” James said.
The attorney general also said Teva’s use of offshore accounts to shelter potentially large sums of money from its American business created “real concern” the company might not pay damages following a Dec. 30 Suffolk County jury verdict that the U.S. unit violated state public nuisance laws.
In a statement, Teva said: “Teva denies misleading the court, and after the court is fully briefed we expect the judge to rule in our favor.”
The company said in May it may have to pay $2.6 billion to settle U.S. opioid lawsuits nationwide.
James’ lawsuit is among more than 3,300 filed by state, local and Native American tribal governments accusing drugmakers of downplaying opioid addiction, and distributors and pharmacies of ignoring red flags about how opioids were being misused.
The attorney general said she has reached $539 million of settlements with four drugmakers, including Johnson & Johnson and Abbvie Inc, and $1.18 billion of settlements with drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.
Teva was accused by James, Nassau County and Suffolk County of using misleading marketing for opioids, including by pushing them for off-label use.
The case focused on Teva’s generic drugs and the Actiq and Fentora cancer pain treatments. Teva’s parent company was dismissed as a defendant in December 2019.
A damages trial has yet to be held.