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Johnson & Johnson agrees to $230M settlement in N.Y. opioid case

New York Attorney General Letitia James (R) said Saturday she has reached a $230 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson to address the state's opioid crisis. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York Attorney General Letitia James (R) said Saturday she has reached a $230 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson to address the state's opioid crisis. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

June 26 (UPI) -- Healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson has agreed to a $230 million settlement with the state of New York in an opioid case, Attorney General Letitia James announced Saturday.

Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, will pay out the $230 million over nine years, according to the settlement, with substantial payments made up front.

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The settlement resolves the state's claims over J&J and Janssen's role in fueling the opioid epidemic, James said in a statement.

It also bars the companies from selling the painkillers nationwide.

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The companies did not admit "any liability or wrongdoing" in the settlement agreement, but told NBC News it is consistent with prior agreement to pay $5 billion to settle opioid claims by states, cities, counties and tribal governments nationwide.

"The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc on countless communities across New York state and the rest of the nation, leaving millions still addicted to dangerous and deadly opioids," James said in a statement. "Johnson & Johnson helped fuel this fire, but today they're committing to leaving the opioid business -- not only in New York, but across the entire country."

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The settlement money will be used for opioid prevention, treatment and education statewide.

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According to the New York State Health Department, the crude rate of opioid overdose deaths was 15.1 per 100,000 people in 2018. From 1999-2019, opioid overdoses killed nearly half a million people nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"While no amount of money will ever compensate for the thousands who lost their lives or became addicted to opioids across our state or provide solace to the countless families torn apart by this crisis, these funds will be used to prevent any future devastation," James said in the statement.

The monetary settlement is the largest James has ever secured, according to the statement.

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It removes J&J from a jury trial slated to begin Tuesday on Long Island.

James said the trial against the remaining defendants will still be held next week "as part of overall push to hold opioid industry accountable."

She filed the lawsuit against five other manufacturers in addition to J&J in March 2019, along with with members of the Sackler family as owners of Purdue Pharma, and other distributers.

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Other manufacturers in the complaint include Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergen Finance. Distributors include McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, Amerisource Bergen Drug Corp. and Rochester Drug Cooperative.

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