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Israel pharmaceutical firm proposes $4.35bn settlement for role in US opioid epidemic

The country’s opioid crisis has killed over half a million over two decades, with the number of annual deaths rising year by year

An Israel-based pharmaceutical company has announced a $4.35 billion nationwide settlement to resolve thousands of lawsuits filed against it for its alleged major role in the US's opioid epidemic, which has killed over 500,000 overdose deaths throughout the past two decades.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries – based in Israel and operating primarily in the US as one of its leading providers of pharmaceutical products – yesterday announced its proposal, in which it would pay state and local governments up to $3.7 billion in cash over the next 13 years, while contributing a further $1.2 billion-worth of the opioid-reversal drug, Naloxone.

The proposed amount would also pay Native American tribes and the fees of attorneys used by the states and tribes approximately $100 million, as well as allowing the states and local governments to choose the option of receiving additional cash, instead of the overdose medication.

Teva Pharmaceuticals initially sought to strike a deal providing less cash and more medicines instead, but the value of its medicinal products was questioned by some states and counties due to their cheap production in comparison to the prices listed in the settlement agreements. As a result, the cash pay-out is far higher than the $2.6 billion in cash and medicine than Teva's CEO, Kare Schultz, originally expected it to be.

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The company's new settlement proposal comes after its New York traded shares fell 11 per cent this year, so far, forcing it to try to resolve the matter faster. The settlement will not be finalised, however, until a sufficient number of the US's states and local governments approve of it and accept the terms.

The country's opioid crisis has killed over half a million over two decades, with the number of annual deaths rising year by year. According to US government data, over 80,000 deaths were caused by opioid overdoses in 2021 alone.

One of the lead negotiators for the states, Attorney General, Tom Miller, of Iowa, hailed the proposal as "another major step in addressing the opioids crisis." He expressed his and other attorneys' expectations that the funds could "make a significant difference in preventing fatal overdoses and treating opioid addiction disorder".

The lawsuits against Teva shed light on the Israeli pharmaceutical industry's major role in the American opioid crisis, particularly after a US jury last year found the company to be guilty of fuelling the epidemic.

It follows on from decades of the Israeli government and occupation authorities allowing Israel-based pharmaceutical companies to experiment their products on Palestinian prisoners, making Palestinian areas laboratories for untested and potentially dangerous medicines.

READ: Israel Medical Association aiding torture of a Palestinians, rights group says

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