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Teva reaches $4.25 billion settlement over alleged role in opioid crisis

Teva Pharmaceuticals will pay up to $4.25 billion in a nationwide settlement over its alleged role in the opioid crisis

The drug giant announced Tuesday that the settlement with several state and local governments includes supplying up to $1.2 billion in Narcan, a nasal spray used to reverse opioid overdoses. The money will be paid out over 13 years.

Teva will also pay $100 million to Native American Tribes.

"While the agreement will include no admission of wrongdoing, it remains in our best interest to put these cases behind us and continue to focus on the patients we serve every day," the company said in a news release as part of its second-quarter earnings report.

The settlement follows a ruling last December in which a New York jury found Teva responsible for contributing to the state's opioid crisis. New York was not included in Tuesday's settlement, although the parties say negotiations with that state are continuing.

The deal in principle would rank among the larger ones so far in a years-long trend of companies settling the complicated lawsuits over the toll from an addiction and overdose epidemic, which has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades.

In their lawsuits, state governments and others claimed the Israel-based Teva promoted Actiq and Fentora, prescription opioids approved to treat cancer pain, plus generic opioids including oxycodone for use for non-cancer purposes. The states also said the company downplayed the addiction risks and encouraged doctors to continue to increase the doses they prescribed. The states claimed the company and its distributor, Anda, failed to comply with requirements on monitoring and reporting suspicious orders.

For the deal to be finalized, it needs approval from state and local governments and tribes.

"While this agreement is a vital step, we also recognize that this alone will not put an end to the opioid epidemic," lead lawyers representing local governments said in a statement. "We will continue to work to hold companies up and down the opioid supply chain accountable."

There have been more than $40 billion worth of proposed and completed settlements over opioid claims in recent years, according to an Associated Press tally.

Earlier this year, drugmaker Johnson & Johnson finalized a $5 billion settlement, and the three national drug distribution firms — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — finalized one worth a total of $21 billion. OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is trying to persuade a court to let it move ahead with a deal that could include up to $6 billion in cash from members of the Sackler family who own the company. That potential deal would also transform the company into a new entity with profits used to combat the crisis. 

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