J&J exits opioid federal trial with $20.4m settlement

By Vassia Barba contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/JHVEPhoto)
(Image: Getty/JHVEPhoto)

Related tags: Johnson & johnson, Opioid, Opioid epidemic, lawsuit, Mallinckrodt, Purdue Pharma

Johnson & Johnson reaches $20m settlement with two US counties on lawsuits regarding the opioid crisis, exits the upcoming federal trial involving several drug manufacturers.

Under the agreement, the company will pay a combined $10m (€9.1m) to the Ohio counties of Cuyahoga and Summit, as well as $5m (€4.6m) towards reimbursement of trial expenses and $5.4m (€4.9m) to non-profit organizations with opioid-related programs.

The company stated​ that the agreement “resolves all of the counties’ claims with no admission of liability.”

As a result of the settlement, J&J will not take part in the federal opioid trial scheduled to begin on October 21, reducing the remaining defendants to six: McKesson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Walgreens, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Henry Schein.

The trial includes litigations from public, private, and non-profit organizations accusing manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioid-based drugs for ‘misrepresenting’​ the risks of long-term use and failure to properly monitor suspicious orders – leading to the ongoing health crisis​, which began in the late 1990’s and has continued since, resulting in a public health emergency​ being declared in 2017.

In August, J&J was ordered to pay $572m​ to the state of Oklahoma, after being found guilty​ for its role in the opioid crisis by the Cleveland County District Court, with the company denying the allegations and appealing.

J&J is one out of many companies involved in the multiple cases relating to the opioid crisis. Earlier this month, Mallinckrodt agreed to pay over $45m​ to settle two litigations, one of which was also included in the upcoming federal trial.

The settlements for Mallinckrodt came after Bloomberg reported​ that the company was exploring the option of bankruptcy, causing its shares to drop by 40%. A few days later, the company announced the divestment​ of its contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) business to a private equity investment firm.

Earlier this year​, Insys announced it would file for bankruptcy, following the settlement of a legal case regarding its sales tactics for its opioid-based pain killer.

To exit its own involvement, Purdue Pharma announced an agreement with representatives of ‘thousands’ of US municipalities, under which the company will pursue bankruptcy​, and contribute an approximate $10bn towards fighting the crisis.

Takedown of such companies comes while the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation has fallen​ below those of all other prominent industries in the US, with the companies’ role in the opioid crisis being one of the main factors, along with criticism on drug pricing and lobbying politicians, a poll by Gallup suggested.

Related topics: Regulatory & Safety, Regulations

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