As part of a $230 million settlement with New York State, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to stop selling opioids in the United States in order to resolve its claims for contributing to the epidemic of prescription painkillers.
The company produces opioids, including fentanyl patches and tablets, and denies any wrongdoing, but will stop manufacturing and distributing opioids in the United States.
The settlement is part of a wave of more than 3,000 lawsuits across the United States, aimed at forcing opioid manufacturers and distributors to take financial responsibility for the epidemic, which officials blamed on their aggressive marketing of highly addictive drugs .
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over the past two decades, opioid overdose has caused 500,000 American deaths. Many of these deaths involved prescription painkillers manufactured by drug manufacturers and prescribed by doctors.
Through the settlement, Johnson & Johnson will avoid going to trial next week, when New York State will face other opioid manufacturers and distributors in court.
“The opioid epidemic has caused severe damage to countless communities in New York State and other parts of the United States, leaving millions of people still addicted to dangerous and deadly opioids,” said New York State Attorney General Leticia James in a statement. The statement said.
“Johnson & Johnson contributed to this fire, but today they pledged to withdraw from the opioid business-not only in New York, but throughout the country,” she said.
James added that part of the reason the pharmaceutical company sells opioids in large numbers is the quota of sales staff.
Johnson & Johnson stated that its “actions related to the marketing and promotion of important prescription painkillers are appropriate and responsible.”
In March 2019, James filed a large-scale lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of opioids. In addition to Johnson & Johnson, the complaint also mentions Purdue Pharmaceuticals and its owners, members of the Sackler family, Mallinckrodt, Endo, and Teva. It also targets distributors including McKesson, Cardinal Health and Amerisource Bergen.
The case against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family and Mallinckrodt is now being heard in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Trials against all other defendants are scheduled to begin next week.
In August, Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a judge in Oklahoma to pay $465 million because Johnson & Johnson was held responsible for the public nuisance of the opioid crisis in the state in a trial in 2019.