© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The CEO of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Kare Schultz speaks during a news conference to discuss the company’s 2019 outlooks in Tel Aviv, Israel February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo
By Steven Scheer
TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NYSE:) expects to finalise an opioid settlement in the United States by year-end and start paying in 2023, its chief executive said on Sunday.
After years of negotiations, Israel-based Teva in July proposed a $4.35 billion nationwide settlement – mostly cash and partly medicines that will amount to $300 million to $400 million over 13 years – to resolve its opioid lawsuits.
U.S. states, cities and counties filed more than 3,000 lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies, accusing them of playing down their addiction risk and failing to stop pills from being diverted for illegal use.
CEO Kare Schultz said the company was working on legal wording that should be wrapped up by the end of September. It then needs approval from states and subdivisions within states.
“When they opt in, once that is all done … then it goes into force and that means the first payments happen next year and go on for 13 years,” Schultz told a news conference. “So, by the end of the year, you should have this clarification that it all comes together and we will start paying next year.”
Teva has denied wrongdoing, saying it sold legal medication that was approved for treatment of pain.
The U.S. opioid crisis has caused more than 500,000 overdose deaths over the past two decades, including more than 80,000 in 2021 alone, according to government data.
Schultz said Teva intended to continue to cut costs by closing some of its sites. Since 2017 it has reduced the number of manufacturing plants to 53 from 80 and it plans to close another 10 in the next few years.
At the same time, Schultz said Teva would continue paying down its high debt level that has dropped to $20 billion from $34 billion and indicated that the company would likely not be impacted by rising interest rates.