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Johnson & Johnson Reaches Settlement in First Federal Opioids Trial

Johnson & Johnson became the fourth drugmaker to avoid going to trial in the first federal opioids case, announcing Tuesday evening that it had reached a $20.4 million agreement to settle claims raised by two Ohio counties.

Although best known for family-friendly products like baby shampoo and baby powder, the company, through its drug manufacturing division, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, made a fentanyl patch and two versions of an opioid tablet. The company has said that those products accounted for less than 1 percent of total opioid prescriptions written in the United States.

With the announcement of the settlement in principle, Johnson & Johnson did not admit wrongdoing and said in a statement that it was settling “to avoid the resource demands and uncertainty of a trial as it continues to seek meaningful progress in addressing the nation’s opioid crisis.”

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to give a combined $10 million to Cuyahoga and Summit Counties, $5 million to cover the plaintiffs’ legal fees and expenses, and $5.4 in charitable contributions to opioid-related nonprofit programs in those Northern Ohio counties.

In comparison, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, a large maker of generic opioids, tentatively settled last month for $24 million in cash and $6 million worth of drugs, including addiction treatment medications.

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