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Ending a landmark case, a Suffolk County jury found a drugmaker liable for its role in the opioid crisis

Courtesy of Pixabay

A Suffolk County jury returned a verdict on Thursday holding a drugmaker responsible for its role in the opioid epidemic.

Teva Pharmaceuticals was the last company left in the landmark trial against a slew of drug companies and pharmacies. The other companies, including Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Allergan and McKesson Corporation, settled, paying over $1.5 billion to New York State, Suffolk and Nassau County.

The deals with Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen have a global value of about $26 billion.

In Suffolk County Supreme Court, the jury agreed with prosecutors who argued Teva Pharmaceuticals and other drugmakers suppressed evidence about how addictive the painkillers are and used deceptive advertising to market the drugs. Teva was held liable for violating rights, which are considered public nuisance charges.

The trial lasted six months, making it one of the longest in state history.

“This is a significant day for New York state,” New York State Attorney General Tish James said in a statement. “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. A jury has found an opioid manufacturer responsible for the death and destruction they inflicted on the American people.”

A separate hearing will be held to determine how much Teva will have to pay in damages. Funds recovered from the opioid litigation will be used for treatment and prevention programs.

James said she will continue to push to hold Purdue Pharma, the Stamford-based maker of OxyContin, and the company’s owners, the Sackler family, accountable for their role in fueling the opioid crisis.

In a separate case, a federal bankruptcy judge this week granted Purdue's request to extend an injunction until February, protecting the company and the Sacklers from litigation. He also ordered Purdue, the Sacklers, the states and other parties to negotiate a new settlement.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.