The New York State Attorney General announced that Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay more than $230 million in a settlement that ensures the company will permanently get out of the opioid business in the United States. The settlement comes at a time when the opioid industry is facing over 3,000 lawsuits across the nation for its contribution to an epidemic of prescription and street opioid abuse that has killed more than 800,000 Americans in the last 20 years, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it came just days before opening arguments in a sweeping New York trial in which the company was to be a defendant. That trial will be the first of its kind to go before a jury, and the first targeting the entire opioid supply chain, from the drugmakers who manufactured the pills, to the distributors that supplied them, and a pharmacy chain that filled prescriptions for them.
“The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc on countless communities across New York State and the rest of the nation, leaving millions still addicted to dangerous and deadly opioids,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “Johnson & Johnson helped fuel this fire, but today they’re committing to leaving the opioid business – not only in New York, but across the entire country.” Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, which was set to be one of the defendants in the New York trial, will also pay an additional $33 million as reimbursement for New York’s attorney fees and costs. The company will make payments over nine years. With the settlement, the company is no longer part of the New York trial.
The $230 million dollars will not be used to compensate people harmed by the opioids and instead used for what’s known as abatement, mitigate the harm, prevent future crises along with education and addiction treatment. Johnson & Johnson released a statement saying the settlement was not an admission of liability or wrongdoing, and that “the company’s actions relating to the marketing and promotion of important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible.” The drugs that Janssen developed included a fentanyl patch and a tablet that was crush-resistant, marketed under names like Duragesic and Nucynta, which, according to Johnson & Johnson, accounted for less than one percent of total opioid prescriptions in the United States. If you or a loved one has been impacted by opioids one of our attorneys would like to talk with you.
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