Johnson & Johnson have announced it will pay $20.4m to settle claims by two Ohio counties, allowing the US healthcare giant to avoid an upcoming federal trial seeking to hold the industry responsible for the nation’s opioid epidemic. Reuters Health reports that J&J became the fourth drugmaker to settle claims ahead of the Federal Court trial against multiple manufacturers and distributors in Cleveland scheduled for later this month.
The report says the case is considered a bellwether for more than 2,600 lawsuits by state and local governments that are pending nationally. “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,” J&J said. “The company recognises the opioid crisis is a complex public health challenge and is working collaboratively to help communities and people in need,” it added.
The company will pay $10m to Cuyahoga and Summit counties, reimburse $5m of their legal and other expenses and provide $5.4m to non-profit organisations that run opioid-related programs in the counties.
The report says Mallinckrodt Plc has finalised a $24m settlement with the same two counties. Endo International Plc and Allergan Plc also settled with the two counties in August to avoid going to trial.
The remaining defendants in the 21 October federal trial include McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and Henry Schein Inc.
The report says earlier in the year, an Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572.1m to the state for its part in fuelling an opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing addictive painkillers. Purdue Pharma and Teva had settled claims by Oklahoma’s attorney general for $270m and $85m, respectively.
[link url="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-johnson-johnson-opioid-ohio/johnson-johnson-settles-ohio-lawsuits-to-avoid-federal-trial-idUSKBN1WH00F"]Reuters Health report[/link]