With $20 Million Payment, J&J Settles Ohio Opioid Case With No Admission of Liability


Johnson & Johnson reached a $20 million settlement agreement with two Ohio counties for its role in the opioid crisis ahead of a watershed trial set to take place later this month involving multiple companies and lawsuits.

Late Monday, life sciences giant J&J said it reached a settlement with Cuyahoga and Summit counties, which resolves all of the counties' claims against its involvement with the health epidemic. Under terms of the settlement, J&J makes no admission of liability in overdoses and also removes the company from the federal trial slated to begin Oct. 21. As part of the agreement, J&J will make a $10 million payment to each of the counties. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson agreed to reimburse the counties for their legal expenses, which amounts to about $5 million. J&J will also direct $5.4 million of its charitable contributions to non-profit organizations in connection with opioid-related programs in these two counties, the company said.

“The settlement allows the company to avoid the resource demands and uncertainty of a trial as it continues to seek meaningful progress in addressing the nation’s opioid crisis,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. “The company recognizes the opioid crisis is a complex public health challenge and is working collaboratively to help communities and people in need.”

Johnson & Johnson’s settlement marks the fourth opioid manufacturer to reach a settlement ahead of the federal trial that will be held in Cleveland later this month.

On Monday, U.K.-based Mallinckrodt reached a settlement with the two Ohio counties. The agreement fully resolves the Track 1 Cases against all named Mallinckrodt entities, Mallinckrodt said. Under terms of the agreement, Mallinckrodt will pay $24 million in cash and provide $6 million in generic products, including addiction treatment products. It also will provide a $500,000 payment in two years in recognition of the counties' time and expenses, the company announced. A recent report showed that Mallinckrodt was among the companies with the highest output of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills during a six-year period. In 2017, the company paid $35 million to the U.S. government to settle allegations that it failed to report suspiciously large amounts of drug orders for its opioid pills.

Last week, Allergan, which it said has not actively marketed or promoted any opioid products since 2013, also reached a settlement in Ohio. As part of the agreement, Allergan will pay $1.9 million to Summit County and $3.1 million to Cuyahoga County.

In August, Endo International and its subsidiaries also reached a settlement in Ohio. Under the settlement terms, Endo will pay a total of $10 million and will provide up to $1 million of its Vasostrict and Adrenalin products to the counties.

Last month, OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and agreed to pay between $10 and $12 billion to settle its involvement in the health care crisis.

While these companies have settled, there are still other companies involved in the Oct. 21 trial, including McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Cardinal Health and others.

In its settlement announcement, J&J said it responsibly marketed its pain killers Duragesic, Nucynta and Nucynta ER. The company noted that since those three drugs were launched, they have accounted for less than 1% of total opioid prescriptions sold in the United States. J&J noted that sold the U.S. marketing rights for Nucynta in 2015 and has not marketed Duragesic in the U.S. since 2008.

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