Pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) has reached a $20.4 million dollar settlement with Ohio, removing the company from the first-ever federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers that will begin later in October. In August, Johnson and Johnson was ordered to pay $572 million dollars to the state of Oklahoma, in another case that blamed the drug manufacturer for the opioid crisis in the state. In the Ohio settlement, JNJ agreed to pay Cuyahoga and Summit counties $10 million in cash, reimburse $5 million in legal fees for the state and donate $5.4 million to nonprofits dealing with the opioid crisis in those communities. "[The] Company is open to identifying an appropriate, comprehensive resolution of the overall opioid litigation. At the same time, the company remains prepared to defend its actions," a spokesman said, however, he reiterated that the company makes "no admission of liability." Over 2,500 lawsuits have been filed from virtually every state, multiple cities, and even some Native American tribes, all accusing the pharmaceutical industry of knowingly fueling the United State's opioid crisis. As the October 21st trial date approaches, more companies have been scrambling to reach settlements with opioid affected states, the most notable of which being Purdue Pharmaceuticals, with lawyers attempting to finalize a $12 billion dollar settlement. Due to the settlement, and the over $250 million in legal costs, Purdue filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September 15th. Companies remaining in the federal lawsuit are McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, the three largest drug distributors in the nation, along with Walgreens, the country's second-largest pharmacy chain, Teva Pharmaceuticals, a manufacturer, and Henry Schein.
Short Refresher: The Opioid Crisis
According to the NIH, about 130 people die from opioid overdose daily. From 1999 to 2017, more than 702,000 people have died from a drug overdose. In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid. (CDC)
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