Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement that “the opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc in countless communities across New York State and across the country, leaving millions still dependent on dangerous opioids. and deadly.
“Johnson & Johnson helped fuel this fire, but today they pledge to quit the opioid industry, not just in New York City, but across the country. Opioids will no longer be manufactured or sold in the United States by J&J, ”said James.
“We are also providing up to $ 230 million to fund opioid prevention, treatment and education efforts in New York State.”
The deal involves a lawsuit filed by James in 2019 and withdraws Johnson & Johnson from a lawsuit set to begin next week on Long Island.
It is part of a slew of litigation over an epidemic linked to nearly 500,000 deaths over the past twenty years.
“So, indeed, by paying the settlement money, [Johnson & Johnson] withdrew from a lawsuit that is completely unprecedented in terms of scope, ”Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reported from Washington, DC. Hanna added that the next trial will be by jury – something that “has never happened before in this type of case”.
In its own statement on Saturday, Johnson & Johnson played down the Attorney General’s announcement. He said the settlement involved two prescription pain relievers – developed by a subsidiary and representing less than 1% of the market – which are already no longer sold in the United States.
The settlement was “not an admission of liability or wrongdoing on the part of the company,” Johnson & Johnson said. He added that his actions “relating to the marketing and promotion of important prescription pain relievers were appropriate and responsible.”
The company also said the settlements were in line with its earlier agreement to pay $ 5 billion to settle opioid claims by states, cities, counties and tribal governments nationwide.
The healthcare company and America’s largest drug distributors – AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp – have offered to pay a total of $ 26 billion to end thousands of opioid lawsuits.
Tuesday’s opioid trial is one of many scheduled for this year, with more ongoing in California and West Virginia.
West Virginia has the highest fatal opioid overdose rate in the country. Overdoses have been on the rise since the early 2000s, when producers of prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone increased their sales in pharmacies and doctors with few controls.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said nearly 500,000 people died from opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2019.