Johnson & Johnson will pay New York State more than $ 230 million in a settlement that also ensures the company will permanently withdraw from the opioid trade in the United States, the Attorney General’s office said on Saturday. of State.
The settlement comes as the opioid industry faces more than 3,000 lawsuits across the country for its contribution to an epidemic of prescription and street opioid abuse that has killed more than 800,000 Americans over the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And it came just days before pleadings opened in a massive New York City trial in which the company was scheduled to be a defendant. This trial will be the first of its kind to take place before a jury, and the first to target the entire opioid supply chain, from the drugmakers who manufactured the pills to the distributors who supplied them, and a chain of pharmacies that filled the prescriptions for them.
“The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc in countless communities across New York State and across the country, leaving millions still addicted to dangerous and deadly opioids,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a press release. “Johnson & Johnson helped fuel this fire, but today they pledge to quit the opioid industry, not just in New York City, but across the country.”
Johnson & Johnson, parent company of Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos., Which was supposed to be one of the defendants in the New York lawsuit, will also pay an additional $ 33 million in reimbursement of New York 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 lawsuit.
The money is not intended to compensate those harmed by the opioid crisis, but rather to what is called harm reduction, mitigation and prevention of future crises, such as education and drug addiction treatment.
In a statement, the company said the settlement was not an admission of liability or wrongdoing, and that “the company’s actions regarding the marketing and promotion of important prescription pain relievers were appropriate and responsible.” .
The drugs developed by Janssen included a fentanyl patch and a crush-resistant tablet, marketed under names such as Duragesic and Nucynta, which Johnson & Johnson said accounted for less than 1% of total opioid prescriptions in the states. -United.
In 2015, Janssen stopped marketing its opioid drugs. Last year, she stopped her prescription pain medication in the United States. Johnson & Johnson and its related divisions remain defendants in other opioid lawsuits across the country.
The sprawling opioid case about to start in New York City has been brought jointly by the attorney general and the counties of Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island. In August 2019, a judge in Oklahoma ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay the state $ 465 million after being found responsible for the public nuisance caused by the epidemic of opioid addiction in that state. This article originally appeared in The New York Times.