Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday announced it had reached an agreement worth more than $20 million with two Ohio counties, becoming the latest company to settle a lawsuit to get out of the first federal trial over the nation's opioids crisis. The deal with Cuyahoga and Summit counties comes a little more than a month after an Oklahoma judge ordered the health care conglomerate to pay $572 million over its marketing of opioids in that state, reports the AP. It was announced less than three weeks before the scheduled start of the first federal trial over the opioid crisis. Four other opioid makers also have reached settlements in recent months and won't be defendants in the trial, scheduled for federal court in Cleveland. Like most of the others, Johnson & Johnson still faces some 2,000 other lawsuits related to the nation's opioids epidemic.
Opioids have been linked to more than 400,000 deaths in the US since 2000. Johnson & Johnson has sold three opioids in the US: Duragesic fentanyl patches; the oral opioid Nucynta; and an extended-release version of Nucynta. The Ohio agreement calls for the company and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary to pay $10 million without admitting liability. The company will also reimburse the counties up to $5 million for legal expenses, with another $5.4 million going to nonprofits dealing with the opioid crisis. "The settlement allows the company to avoid the resource demands and uncertainty of a trial as it continues to seek meaningful progress in addressing the nation's opioid crisis," the company said in a statement. "The company recognizes the opioid crisis is a complex public health challenge and is working collaboratively to help communities and people in need."
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