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Johnson & Johnson agrees $20.4m settlement in Ohio over opioid crisis

Will avoid upcoming federal trial as a result

JJ

Just a month after it was found liable in the US state of Oklahoma for its part in fuelling the opioid crisis, drugmaker Johnson & Johnson has settled with two counties in the US state of Ohio over similar accusations. 

Ahead of the landmark federal trial due to start in the US later this month, J&J has reached a $20.4m settlement with Cuyahoga and Summit counties in the state of Ohio. By reaching this settlement, J&J avoids the federal trial, which carries uncertainty and could end in heftier fines or penalties.

Under the terms of the settlement, J&J will reimburse $5m of the counties’ legal and other expenses incurred in preparation for the trial. It will also provide $5.4m of its charitable contributions to non-profit organisations which have connections with opioid-related programmes in these counties.

In a statement, J&J said that the settlement allows it to “avoid the resource demands and uncertainty of a trial as it continues to seek meaningful progress in addressing the nation’s opioid crisis”, and that the deal “resolves all of the counties’ claims with no admission of liability”.

The pharma giant is perhaps learning from past mistakes, having lost its trial with Oklahoma which resulted in a $572m fine. That ruling made Oklahoma the first state to successfully sue a manufacturer for their role in the US opioid crisis, which has seen addiction to these drugs and deaths by overdose increase exponentially over the last two decades.

It also settled with two other opioid drugmakers, including a $270m deal with Purdue Pharma and an $85m deal with Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Although lawyers for J&J argued against the findings that the company purposefully provided misleading information in its marketing of its opioid products, the ruling set a precedent for the ongoing opioid litigation and other drug companies implicated will likely do what they can to avoid similar trials.

Purdue Pharma, privately-owned by the Sackler family and the manufacturer of the now infamous opioid product OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month following increasing blame for its role in the US opioid epidemic. The filing came as no surprise, given the mounting pressure and various legal battles aimed at Purdue.

The federal trial due to begin on 21 October combines almost 2,000 cases involving numerous cities, counties and communities in the US who have aimed legal attacks at various opioid drugmakers.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

2nd October 2019

From: Healthcare

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