They also agreed to permanently end the manufacturing and distribution of painkillers nationwide.
The opioid crisis in the United States has created a dire situation in many different regions across the country. Areas like Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York have been particularly hit by the epidemic, which has almost normalized the appearance of needles in the streets as substance-dependent individuals look to get their fix elsewhere.
The situation has become so dire that Johnson & Johnson has agreed to a $230 million settlement with New York that will bar the company from promoting opioids, and cease the distribution of the drugs within the nation. The settlement arrives after years of lawsuits by different states, cities, and countries against Big Pharma companies over the opioid crisis, which has killed nearly 500,000 people in the U.S. in the last few decades.
John Moore/Getty Images
New York Attorney General Letitia James' office revealed in a statement on Saturday (June 26) that the agreement bans J & J from promoting opioids through any means and prohibits lobbying these products at the federal, local, or state levels. Furthermore, as part of the settlement, the company will resolve opioid-related claims and allocate payments over the course of nine years.
They may also be required to pay an additional $30 million more in the first year if the state executive chamber signs new legislation creating an opioid settlement fund. Johnson & Johnson has notably not marketed opioids in the country since 2015 and eventually discontinued business in 2020.
Governments across the country have been arguing for years that Big Pharma companies over-prescribed the drugs, which caused people to become addicted and forced them to abuse other illegal forms of opioids to satisfy their fix. The companies have held that they distributed the necessary amount of products.
“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,” James said in a statement. “Johnson & Johnson helped fuel this fire, but today they’re committing to leaving the opioid business — not only in New York, but across the entire country,” she added. “Opioids will no longer be manufactured or sold in the United States by J&J.”
In a statement Saturday, Johnson & Johnson said the settlement “is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company” and is “consistent with the terms of the previously announced $5 billion all-in settlement agreement in principle for the resolution of opioid lawsuits and claims by states, cities, counties and tribal governments.”
Comparatively, the conglomerate is worth around $435 billion.