Jewish Trivia: Teva Pharmaceuticals


Mark D. Zimmerman,

The American division of the Israeli company Teva Pharmaceuticals was found liable in a lawsuit alleging responsibility for aspects of the opioid crisis in this country.

“Teva Pharmaceuticals USA…misled the American people about the true dangers of opioids,” said New York’s attorney general Letitia James. In 1901 Chaim Salomon, Moshe Levin, and Yitschak Elstein founded a pharmaceutical company in Jerusalem called S.L.E., the founders’ initials. In 1935, Günther Friedländer, a pharmacist who fled Nazi Germany to Palestine, took over the company and renamed it Teva Middle East Pharmaceutical & Chemical Works Co. Ltd.

Teva grew through a series of mergers and acquisitions, and now maintains patents on many medications including Copaxone, the world’s best-selling multiple sclerosis drug, and Azilect, which is used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

What was the founding philosophy of the company, as stated by Günther Friedländer?

A. “When keeping the body in health and vigor, one walks in the way of God.” Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deot 4:1.

B. “Just as a tree does not grow if it is not fertilized, plowed and weeded–and even if it already grew but then is not watered, it dies–so the body is like a tree, the medicine is the fertilizer and the doctor is the farmer.” Midrash Shmuel 4:1.

C. “The Holy One, blessed be He, said that there is no ailment that does not have its cure; and the cure and drug for every ailment have been predetermined.” Midrash Tanchuma, Yitro 8. 

D. “One may not rely on a miracle.” Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 64b.

E. “A Jewish mother will always buy medicine for her children.”