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Teva execs turned up for the Q4 call with analysts to go deep into the numbers, but it wasn’t long before the litigation around opioids took center stage in the Q&A.
CEO Kåre Schultz addressed the recent court decisions in the US related to the pharma’s role in the US opioid epidemic — and how there have been mixed results in different courts, specifically California, Oklahoma and in New York.
“We had a court decision, which was a bench trial, in Orange County, California, where it basically was stated that, you know, if you do everything correct, and the prescriptions are correct, the products are in compliance with FDA regulations and DEA regulations, then there’s no basis for claiming public nuisance liability,” Schultz told investors and analysts — calling it a “clear win” for the pharma.
He then talked about the J&J verdict from the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which Schulz claimed was a similar ruling to the one from California— along the lines of public nuisance liability. And then, they got a loss in New York, where the pharma was found to be liable. However, Schultz said the pharma has a mistrial motion still pending.
And while that motion is playing out, the pharma still has 3500 cases pending, Schultz said on the call.
In other settlements, Teva is paying the state of Texas $150 million over the next 15 years, and the state of Louisiana $15 million over the next 18 years. These include an additional $75 million to Texas and $3 million to Louisiana in generic Narcan and generic Suboxone.Teva settles with Louisiana for $18M over opioid claims; Video game treatment churns out PhII results
Beyond those settlements, Schultz said that he was “still optimistic that we can reach a nationwide settlement within the next 12 months.”
When analysts asked about the potential settlement, the pharma responded that the initial framework — $250 million in cash and $23 billion in product — that was offered back in 2019 to settle thousands of lawsuits wasn’t attractive to plaintiffs’ lawyers. As Schultz said, “I think it’s fair to say the reason why it [the deal] didn’t really fly was mainly because the plaintiff lawyers, they basically did not see any fees coming in from the product part. And that means that it was not attractive for them.”
Even further, the company said that it could absorb the settlements it made so far on its balance sheets — precisely because the payout is over a long period of time. Paying out the entire sum in the settlements now is not in the cards, according to Schultz — given Teva’s current debt.