J&J shelled out $99 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the Mountain State over its role in fueling the opioid addiction epidemic there. However, the New Jersey-based drug maker does not admit any liability or wrongdoing for its role in the crisis as part of the settlement. The $99 million settlement allows J&J to avoid a larger lawsuit filed by state officials.
The lawsuit accuses J&J of "over-marketing" opioids in West Virginia and pushing doctors to over-prescribe the highly addictive drugs. The Mountain State has suffered the most from the opioid crisis, with 84.9 deaths from overdoses per 100,000 residents.
West Virginia Attorney General (AG) Patrick Morrisey said the settlement would allow the state to quickly fund programs to address opioid addiction and its repercussions. He added that J&J's settlement not only resolves lawsuits at the state level, but also those filed by local governments. "We can save lives this year, and that's what we're going to do," Morrisey told reporters during an April 18 news conference.
In February, J&J finalized a nationwide opioid settlement amounting to $5 billion to resolve state and local government lawsuits. West Virginia and four other states did not join the February settlement; had it done so, it would have only received about $50 million.
According to Morrisey, the bigger amount West Virginia received to settle its standalone lawsuit vindicated the earlier decision not to participate in the nationwide settlement. West Virginia's settlement with J&J followed an earlier $26 million settlement with Irish opioid manufacturer Endo International. (Related: J&J trying to weasel its way out of paying $3.5 billion to victims of its cancer-causing baby talc by forming a new corporation and immediately declaring bankruptcy.)
"We believe that J&J is the kingpin behind the opioid crisis that has caused the deaths of thousands … and created a generation of people addicted to opioids. The evidence is clear that they must be held accountable for the public nuisance they caused and ordered to abate it," commented former Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter.
This was not the first time the New Jersey-based J&J shelled out a huge amount to settle lawsuits related to its role in the opioid crisis.
In June 2021, it reached a settlement with the state of New York worth $230 million. The amount served to settle a civil lawsuit filed by New York AG Letitia James in 2019.
"The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc on countless communities across New York state and the rest of the nation, leaving millions still addicted to dangerous and deadly opioids. J&J helped fuel this fire, but [it's] committing to leaving the opioid business not only in New York, but across the entire country," James said in a press release.
"We are also delivering up to $230m to fund opioid prevention, treatment and education efforts across New York state. While no amount of money will ever compensate for the thousands who lost their lives or became addicted to opioids across our state or provide solace to the countless families torn apart by this crisis, these funds will be used to prevent any future devastation."
J&J meanwhile, said in a statement that the settlement with the Empire State's top attorney "is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company," adding that its actions "relating to the marketing and promotion of important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible." The company reiterated that it decided to "discontinue all of its prescription pain medications in the U.S." in 2020.
The $230 million settlement followed a similar victory by James and a coalition of almost every U.S. state AG. The coalition secured an agreement with the consultancy firm McKinsey & Company stemming from its collaborations with drug companies to promote opioids. Under the February 2021 agreement, $573 million will be allocated for opioid "treatment and abatement" programs.
Visit Opioids.news for more stories about the opioid crisis in America.
Watch this report by CBS News about J&J's $2.2 billion settlement with the Department of Justice over the drug Risperdal.
This video is from the Sons of Single Moms channel on Brighteon.com.