New York Attorney General Letitia James reached a substantial agreement that will stand as the largest monetary settlement she has ever arranged, per a recent announcement that pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson would “deliver up to $230 million to New York State,” as a result of their role in fueling the opioid epidemic. The agreement also involves J&J withdrawing from opioid production and distribution entirely.
James sued Johnson & Johnson, along with other manufacturers and distributors such as Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt LLC, Endo Health Solution, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, and Allergan Finance over allegations that the companies had fueled the opioid crisis that has plagued the United States for the past couple decades. While the other cases remain in earlier stages, James was able to come to an agreement with Johnson & Johnson. James explained that the money from the settlement will be spent on opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and education efforts. The agreement has been described as an acknowledgement of “Johnson & Johnson’s exit from the opioid business nationally.”
The $230 million settlement is currently scheduled to take place over nine years, but timelines could change depending on different circumstances in New York State. If a specific new law is passed, Johnson & Johnson will not only be responsible for an additional $30 million, but $130 million of the original amount will be put on an accelerated payment plan and will be due by February 2022. The law in question passed the state legislature unanimously and will effectively create an opioid settlement fund.
Specific details of the agreement include stopping Johnson & Johnson, as well as its associates, from “manufacturing or selling opioids anywhere in New York.” They will be responsible for providing the Office of the Attorney General with details on when the last inventory of opioids they sent out will expire. They will be barred from promoting opioids or opioid products, lobbying authorities about opioids, or incentivizing their employees using opioids. Another important condition of the agreement is its requirement to have Johnson & Johnson provide more opioid related information to the public.