Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay New York state $230 million to resolve allegations that the pharmaceutical company aided in the growth of the opioid problem, Attorney General Letitia James announced on Saturday.
Additionally, the company agreed to permanently halt opioid manufacturing and distribution in New York and the rest of the country, James said in a statement announcing the settlement.
The company “helped fuel this fire, but today they’re committing to leaving the opioid business — not only in New York, but across the entire country,” she said.
The settlement of a case filed by James in 2019 removes Johnson & Johnson from a trial scheduled to begin next week on Long Island — part of a flood of litigation stemming from an epidemic that has claimed almost 500,000 lives over the last two decades.
Johnson & Johnson issued its own statement on Saturday downplaying the attorney general’s announcement. The company stated that the settlement covered two prescription opioids — created by a subsidiary and accounting for less than 1% of the market — that were previously discontinued in the United States.
Johnson & Johnson stated that the payment was “not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company,” Additionally, it stated that its actions “relating to the marketing and promotion of important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible.”
The settlement was the latest development in the tangled universe of opioid-related cases sweeping the United States, which has drawn analogies to the 1990s multistate action against cigarette firms. It reflects a strategy pursued by certain large pharmaceutical corporations, who view settlement as being in their best interests, in part because it would likely cost less than continuously losing in court
Johnson & Johnson — along with distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson — announced last year that they would offer a total of $26 billion over 18 years to resolve all pending litigation, with the proceeds going toward resolving the situation.