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Teva, Allergan settle West Virginia opioid case for $161.5 million

Teva, Allergan settle W.Va. opioid case

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and AbbVie’s Allergan unit reached a settlement worth $161.5 million to resolve claims the companies fueled an opioid epidemic in West Virginia, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said on Wednesday.

The agreement is the largest state-negotiated settlement in West Virginia history, and consists of $134 million in cash plus the contribution of drugs used to treat opioid overdoses, Morrisey said at a news conference.

West Virginia had accused Teva and Allergan of deceiving prescribers about the risks of opioids when marketing their drugs for the treatment for chronic pain. The misleading marketing led to an increase in substance abuse and overdose deaths, according to West Virginia’s complaint.

The settlement ended a trial that had been proceeding for two months in Kanawha County Circuit Court. The companies did not admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

The state’s decision to press forward at trial helped it secure more money, Morrisey said.

“We took lot of risk to do the right thing, and it has paid off big for West Virginia,” he added.

Teva said it will pay $83 million in cash and provide a 10-year supply of Narcan, a drug used to stop opioid overdoses, which the state valued at $27 million. Allergan said it will pay $51.2 million.

West Virginia has been hit particularly hard by opioid abuse and overdoses, with more than three times the national rate of overdose deaths in 2020, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

— Reuters

Pfizer to lower prices for poor countries

Pfizer said Wednesday that it will provide nearly two dozen products, including its top-selling coronavirus vaccine and treatment, at not-for-profit prices in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The drugmaker announced the program at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, and said it was aimed at improving health equity in 45 lower-income countries. Most of the countries are in Africa, but the list also includes Haiti, Syria, Cambodia and North Korea.

The products, which are widely available in the U.S. and the European Union, include 23 medicines and vaccines that treat infectious diseases, some cancers and rare and inflammatory conditions. Company spokeswoman Pam Eisele said only a small number of the medicines and vaccines are currently available in the 45 countries.

New York-based Pfizer will charge only manufacturing costs and “minimal” distribution expenses, Eisele said. It will comply with any sanctions and all other applicable laws.

The drugmaker also plans to provide help with public education, training for health-care providers and drug supply management.

— Associated Press

Amazon is opening its first physical clothing store on Wednesday, the latest brick-and-mortar initiative from the world's largest online retailer. Called Amazon Style, the shop is located in Glendale, Calif., near Los Angeles. The new wrinkle is an app that lets shoppers scan codes on displayed items, which employees fetch in the right size or color and then send to a fitting room or checkout counter. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.)

Orders placed with U.S. factories for durable goods rose in April, highlighting firm and sustained demand for equipment and merchandise. Bookings for durable goods — items meant to last at least three years — increased 0.4 percent in April after a downwardly revised 0.6 percent advance a month earlier, Commerce Department figures showed Wednesday.

Home Depot shareholders voted Tuesday in favor of proposals calling for an independent racial audit and a report on the company's links to deforestation in its wood sourcing, adding to the wave of companies facing investor pressure on environmental, social and governance issues. The racial-equity resolution calls for directors to authorize an independent audit into the effectiveness of the retailer's practices related to stakeholders who are Black, Indigenous or people of color, and to minority communities. The resolution flagged an incident in which an employee at one of Home Depot's Minneapolis stores was suspended when he refused to remove a Black Lives Matter logo from his uniform.

8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases first-quarter gross domestic product.

— From news services