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Johnson & Johnson settles New York opioid suit in $230 million deal

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner, CNN Business

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to a $230 million settlement with New York state, resolving complaints from the state’s attorney general over the pharmaceutical company’s role in the opioid epidemic.

“Johnson & Johnson helped fuel this fire,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Saturday. “While no amount of money will ever compensate for the thousands who lost their lives or became addicted to opioids across our state … these funds will be used to prevent any future devastation.”

The settlement money will go toward opioid education, prevention and treatment, James added. Johnson & Johnson is set to pay out the funds over the course of nine years. The company may also be responsible for another $30 million if New York passes a law that creates an opioid settlement fund.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said that “the settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing,” adding that it “remains committed to providing certainty for involved parties and critical assistance for communities in need.”

The settlement also prevents Johnson & Johnson from manufacturing or selling opioids in the state, or promoting opioids or opioid-related products. The company had already decided to discontinue the production and sale of pain medication in the United States last year, a spokesperson said.

About 247,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription opioids in the United States from 1999 to 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The crisis has had a financial toll, as well — a notice of claim filed last summer in bankruptcy court by nearly every US state and many territories said that opioid manufacturers have cost the American economy $2.15 trillion.

A New York lawsuit against the makers and distributors of opioids is going to trial next week. Johnson & Johnson was set to be a defendant but will no longer be a part of the trial due to the settlement agreement.

News of the settlement comes as lawsuits against major pharmaceutical companies over their role in the opioid epidemic play out in court. In May, a landmark trial involving three major prescription opioid distributors began in federal court in West Virginia. California’s trial against opioid manufacturers began in April.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

— CNN’s Lauren del Valle contributed to this report.

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