West Virginia’s ongoing opioid trial against drug manufacturers on Wednesday again turned the focus to the companies’ marketing and ethical manufacturing of opioids.
Two defendants remain in the landmark case — Teva Pharmaceutical Industries LLC and a group of companies that are part of Allergan Finance LLC — after the state reached a $99 million settlement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, on Monday.
Wednesday marked Day 13 of the trial.
Attorneys representing West Virginia played prerecorded video depositions Wednesday afternoon that attempted to paint a picture of Teva’s role in manufacturing and marketing opioids. Counsel pressed Michael Clarke, the former vice president for ethics and compliance of Actavis Generics, about meetings with U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officers in September and October 2012.
Teva purchased Actavis, a generic opioid manufacturing corporation, from Allergan in 2016.
Clarke and the state’s attorneys discussed a document detailing the meetings with the Drug Enforcement Agency, where Clarke said agents asked Actavis to reduce its manufacturing quotas of certain generic opioids by 30% to 40%. This was not a request, but more of an informal nudge by the agency, Clarke said.
The internal Actavis document noted the agency’s request was “declined.” Clarke said the agency failed to show concrete evidence their company was contributing to the increasing diversion of opioids, namely oxycodone, in states like West Virginia, Virginia and Florida.
The first meeting in September, held in Washington, D.C., lasted about three hours, Clarke said. Two-and-a-half of those hours, Clarke said, were consumed by agents lecturing Actavis representatives. Clarke said company officials went into the meeting looking for direction on how to beef-up their suspicious ordering monitoring program, but instead received a presentation on the growing opioid epidemic in the United States.
“We were looking for that,” Clarke said. “It wasn’t that.”
In the follow-up meeting in October 2012 with local drug enforcement agents in Morristown, New Jersey — where Actavis was headquartered — Clarke said the company again did not get the chance to learn where they could do better. Instead, they received informal direction to drop their manufacturing quotas, and Actavis didn’t have the opportunity to respond to the finger-pointing claims.
“It didn’t turn out to be that case at all,” Clarke said. “That topic was waved off.”
On Wednesday, Clarke blamed the agency, saying it had no direction in attempting to step up its enforcement.
The trial is scheduled to continue at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in the ceremonial courtroom at the Kanawha County Courthouse, in Charleston.