Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos unit have agreed to a more than $10 million settlement with Ohio’s Cuyahoga and Summit counties over opioid-related litigation, rather than allowing the matter go to federal trial.

The announcement came a day after Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals of Staines-Upon-Thames, United Kingdom, said that it had executed a $30 million settlement agreement with Cuyahoga and Summit counties in connection with lawsuits related to opioids.

Both companies were scheduled to face trial this month in the federal, multidistrict litigation, along with other defendants.1,2 J&J’s settlement comes after the company was ordered to pay $572 million to satisfy an opioid-related litigation judgement in Oklahoma.3

These lawsuits are some of the many filed across the country against drug manufacturers and distributors, generally claiming these companies contributed to the opioid crisis through aggressive or deceptive marketing and distribution practices.3

J&J maintains that it responsibly marketed extended-release tapentadol (Nucynta-ER), fentanyl (Duragesic), and tapentadol (Nucynta) and that since those drugs launched, they have accounted for less than 1% of total opioid prescriptions in the United States. J&J sold the US marketing rights for tapentadol in 2015 and has not marketed fentanyl in the United States since 2008.1

This week’s settlement agreement resolves all of J&J's and Janssen Pharmaceutical’s litigation with the 2 Ohio counties without the company admitting to their claims.1

Under the terms of the settlement, J&J has agreed to reimburse $5 million of the counties’ legal and other expenses incurred in preparation for the trial and will direct $5.4 million of its charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations in connection with opioid-related programs in these 2 counties.1

The settlement allows it to avoid the resource demands and uncertainty of a trial, according to J&J 

In a statement, the company said that it recognizes the opioid crisis is a complex public health challenge and that it is continuing to seek meaningful progress in addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, while working  to help communities and individuals in need.1

Mallinckrodt’s agreement calls for the British company to pay $24 million in cash, in addition to providing $6 million in generic products, including those for addiction treatment. Mallinckrodt also will provide a $500,000 payment in 2 years in recognition of the 2 counties' time and expenses.2 

Other pharmaceutical companies previously settled related opioid litigation with Cuyahoga and Summit counties. They include Allergan and Endo Pharmaceuticals and Allergan, both of Dublin, Ireland.4,5

In August 2019, Allergan announced its settlement with the 2 Ohio counties.

Allergan will pay $1.9 million to Summit County and $3.1 million to Cuyahoga County, as part of the settlement, according to the company.

Allergan also cited anticipated legal expenses and time as reasons for agreeing to settle.5

Endo announced in September 2019 its final litigation settlement. Under Endo’s agreement, the pharmaceutical company will pay a total of $10 million to the 2 counties, as well as providing up to $1 million of its epinephrine and vasopressin products at no charge.4

References
  1. Johnson & Johnson reaches settlement agreement with two Ohio counties ahead of upcoming opioid trial [news release]. New Brunswick, NJ; October 1, 2019: Johnson & Johnson website. jnj.com/johnson-johnson-reaches-settlement-agreement-with-two-ohio-counties-ahead-of-upcoming-opioid-trial. Accessed October 2, 2019. 
  2. Mallinckrodt finalizes settlement to resolve "Track 1" opioid cases with the Ohio counties of Cuyahoga and Summit [news release]. Staines-Upon-Thames, UK; September 30, 2019: Mallinckrodt website. mallinckrodt.com/about/news-and-media/news-detail/?id=26171. Accessed October 2, 2019
  3. Coppock K. Opioid maker ordered to pay $572 million in case brought by state of Oklahoma. Pharmacy Times. August 27, 2019. pharmacytimes.com/news/opioid-maker-ordered-to-pay-572-million-in-case-brought-by-state-of-oklahoma. Accessed October 2, 2019.
  4. Endo announces execution of final settlement agreement and release resolving "Track 1" opioid cases [news release]. Dublin, Ireland; September 5, 2019: Endo website. investor.endo.com/news-releases/news-release-details/endo-announces-execution-final-settlement-agreement-and-release. Accessed October 2, 2019. 
  5. Allergan announces settlement with two Ohio plaintiffs in federal opioid litigation [news release]. Dublin, Ireland; August 30, 2019: Allergan website. allergan.com/news/news/thomson-reuters/allergan-announces-settlement-with-two-ohio-plaint. Accessed October 2, 2019.