Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay out a $230 million settlement for its role in the opioid crisis in the US. Along with the settlement, J&J has reportedly agreed to stop selling opioids in the US.
This settlement may be the first of many that will follow as trials proceed nationwide. However, one of the conditions of the settlement is that Johnson & Johnson is excluded from the upcoming jury trial which begins today in New York. The lawsuit is charging multiple drug makers and distributors for deceptive marketing and downplaying the threat of the severely addictive drugs.
New York Attorney General, Letitia James, has filed the US’ most comprehensive lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors yet. The press release names these as the defendants in the trial: Purdue Pharma and its affiliates, members of the Sackler Family and trusts they control, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its affiliates (including its parent company Johnson & Johnson), Mallinckrodt LLC and its affiliates, Endo Health Solutions and its affiliates, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and its affiliates, and Allergan Finance, LLC and its affiliates. The distributors named in the complaint are McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation, and Rochester Drug Cooperative Inc.
AG James argues that these companies have all contributed greatly to the opioid epidemic that has caused “widespread addiction, overdose, deaths, and suffering.” By using deceptive marketing and downplaying the severity of addiction to these substances, these companies have created the opioid crisis.
Attorney General James added, “We found that pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors engaged in years of deceptive marketing about the risks of opioids and failed to exercise their basic duty to report suspicious behavior, leading to the crisis we are living with today. As the Sackler Family and the other defendants grew richer, New Yorkers’ health grew poorer and our state was left to foot the bill. The manufacturers and distributors of opioids are to blame for this crisis and it is past time they take responsibility.”
For Johnson & Johnson, a $230 million settlement is nothing more than a slap on the wrist, especially since the company wasn’t forced to admit liability in the settlement. However, going through a full trial is sure to be a very expensive venture, even for Johnson & Johnson. The company claims that they have decided to discontinue all its prescription pain meds in America this year. They may have gotten away with it this trial, but the road to forgiveness is yet long. According to the press release issued by the Office of the Attorney General of New York, over 130 people die of opioid-related overdoses daily in the US.
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