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J&J proposes $4bn in cash to settle opioid crisis allegations

Upcoming federal trial puts a number of companies in the spotlight

J&J

Johnson & Johnson has proposed a $4bn cash payment to settle accusations from around 2,600 lawsuits claiming it holds partial blame for the opioid epidemic in the US. 

As local and state governments, as well as hospitals and other entities, continue to seek justice for the crisis which has claimed approximately 400,000 lives, drugmakers and manufacturers are continuing to pay up for their role in fuelling opioid addiction.

As well as J&J, opioid medication distributors McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp and Cardinal Health have also offered to pay $18bn in cash over 18 years, according to Reuters. 

These distributors have been subject to numerous lawsuits, which have evidence that they evaded drug regulators and aided pharmacies and manufacturers to bypass restriction on opioid painkillers.

In addition, Teva Pharmaceuticals has offered medications up to a value of $15bn as part of a proposed deal, and has offered to provide distribution services. The deal will run over a period of 10 years to reach a total estimated value of approximately $28bn.

These companies, barring J&J, are defendants in the upcoming federal trial set to begin on Monday. To avoid the federal trial, the distributers are hoping to reach a settlement and avoid heftier fines. However, there is still no guarantee that a deal will be reached before it commences.

J&J became the first company found responsible for contributing to the opioid crisis following a legal verdict in the US state of Oklahoma. The court’s decision set a precedent for other drug companies facing litigation for opioid accusations.

However, J&J has since chosen to fight the case rather than settle, after state prosecutors refused to acknowledge that the company’s share in the opioid market was just 1% across the country.

Also in the firing line was Purdue Pharma, which filed for bankruptcy following increasing blame for its role in fuelling the epidemic. The company made vast amounts of profits from its notorious prescription opioid painkiller OxyContin.

Under this agreement, Purdue is set to provide over $10bn in helping to address the epidemic – some states however are not fully satisfied with the settlement, and have said that the company’s owners, the Sackler family, should contribute more than the agreed $3bn.

Mallinckrodt also agreed to pay $30m to settle allegations from two Ohio counties that it helped fuel the epidemic in September, with $24m in cash to be paid, and $6m donated in generic products, including medicines to treat addictions.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

17th October 2019

From: Healthcare

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