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Johnson & Johnson reaches $20.4M settlement over opioid crisis

By
Darryl Coote

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Johnson & Johnson reached a $20.4 million settlement agreement with two Ohio counties on Tuesday, preventing the healthcare behemoth from going to trial over its alleged role in fueling the ongoing opioid crisis.

Under the settlement, Johnson & Johnson would pay Cuyahoga and Summit counties a combined $10 million while reimbursing them the $5 million they paid in legal and other expenses in the preparation for trial. The company will also give $5.4 million from its charitable contributions to nonprofits with opioid-related programs in the counties.

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Johnson & Johnson does not have to admit any wrongdoing under the deal while recognizing the "the opioid crisis is a complex public health challenge," it said in a statement.

The company said the settlement avoids "the resource demands and uncertainty of a trial as it continues to seek meaningful progress in addressing the nation's opioid crisis."

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Johnson & Johnson produces opioids including fentanyl under its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical and has said in court documents that it is responsible for less than 1 percent of prescription opioids in the two counties, which accused Janssen of using false and misleading advertising to push its highly addictive products.

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The settlement removes Johnson & Johnson from the upcoming landmark federal trial on Oct. 21 against manufacturers of prescription opioids for alleged gross misrepresentation of the long-term risks of its drugs.

In the consolidated court case, six of the original two dozen opioid manufacturers remain, including McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, Walgreens, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Henry Schein.

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In August, an Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay the state $573 million for its role in the opioid crisis.

Last month, Purdue Pharma filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as part of its agreement to settle lawsuits from 24 state attorneys general and some 2,000 local governments, forfeiting some $10 billion to a trust "for the benefit of claimants and the American people," it said.

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