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J&J Reaches Settlement Agreement with New York in Opioid Case

— July 2, 2021

Johnson & Johnson settles opioid litigation with the state of New York.

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has agreed to a $230 million settlement with New York preventing the drug marker from promoting opioids, and the company confirmed it has ended distribution of these products within the United States.  New York Attorney General (AG) Letitia James’ said the agreement also restricts J&J from lobbying about opioids, even at the federal level.  Johnson & Johnson has not marketed opioids in the U.S. since 2015 and fully discontinued the business in 2020.

The $230 million total will be distributed according to an accelerated payment schedule to fund addiction treatment and abatement related to opioid use disorder (OUD) in New York communities who have struggled amid the epidemic.  These payments will be allocated over nine years.  Also, as part of the settlement, the drug maker could pay $30 million more in the first year if New York’s “executive chamber signs into law new legislation creating an opioid settlement fund,” according to the press release from the AG’s office.

J&J Reaches Settlement Agreement with New York in Opioid Case
Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

“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,” James said. “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.  Opioids will no longer be manufactured or sold in the United States by J&J.”

In fall of last year, J&J announced it would contribute up to $1 billion in additional funds to settle lawsuits alleging it and other companies fueled the U.S. opioid epidemic.  At the time, Paul Hanly, a lead attorney for local governments pursuing federal lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors, responded that plaintiffs were “very pleased with J&J’s agreement to resolve the cases…We are hopeful other companies defending the numerous litigations will see the wisdom of this step forward.”

“This additional amount results from continued negotiations and is intended to maximize participation in the settlement,” J&J wrote in a statement.  It was quick to add, however, that the “settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing, and the company will continue to defend against any litigation that the final agreement does not resolve.  The settlement will provide certainty for involved parties and critical assistance for families and communities in need.”

Other defendants in the New York opioid litigation include Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, and Allergan Finance, all of whom have faced lawsuits across the nation.  In the most recent announcement, Johnson & Johnson said it “is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company” and is “consistent with the terms of the previously announced $5 billion all-in settlement agreement in principle for the resolution of opioid lawsuits and claims by states, cities, counties and tribal governments.”

James noted in the press release, “The state will focus on funding for opioid prevention, treatment, and education efforts in order to prevent any future devastation.”


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