Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $40.5 million to settle New Hampshire’s claims over the company’s role in the opioid epidemic, avoiding a trial that was due to begin next week.
Thursday’s settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in 2018 accusing Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit. New Hampshire accused them of aggressively marketing opioids to doctors and patients, misrepresenting that the drugs were rarely addictive when used to treat chronic pain, and targeting vulnerable groups like the elderly.
“This resolution is a positive step forward to ensure that these devastating business practices do not happen again,” Governor Chris Sununu said in a statement.
New Hampshire will apply $31.5 million for the opioid cut, after paying legal costs, and Johnson & Johnson will be banned from selling or promoting opioids there.
A trial was scheduled for September 7 in Merrimack County Superior Court.
In a statement, Johnson & Johnson did not admit wrongdoing and called its marketing and promotion of prescription opioids “appropriate and responsible.”
The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based drugmaker also said it will defend itself against other pending opioid litigation.
New Hampshire was one of the few states not to join Johnson & Johnson’s share of February’s $26 billion national opioid settlement with the company and the three largest U.S. drug distributors, in the hope to recover more by continuing on his own.
Johnson & Johnson expects to be reimbursed $1.5 million of this settlement because New Hampshire did not participate.
More than 500,000 people have died from opioid overdoses in the past two decades nationwide, including a record 75,673 in the year ending April 2021, according to US government data.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jason Neely and Jonathan Oatis)
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