Pharmaceutical group Johnson & Johnson, one of the companies accused of fueling the opioid crisis that has caused thousands of deaths in the United States, will stop producing and selling these substances after a $ 230 million deal ( 1.1 billion reais) with the State of New York.
State Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement the settlement allows Johnson & Johnson to settle disputes over “its role in fueling the opioid epidemic,” according to a statement from the prosecutor. general. The company will spread the payment over nine years.
He can also pay an additional $ 30 million (R $ 147.6 million) in the first year if the state passes a law to create an opioid fund.
The company said in another statement that the deal “does not constitute an admission of liability or infringement on the part of the company”, and that it allows it to avoid a trial which was due to open on Monday (28 ).
But the lab still faces other lawsuits in the country, including an ongoing trial in California.
“The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc in many communities across New York State and across the country, leaving millions of people still addicted to dangerous and deadly opioids,” James said in the statement.
“Johnson & Johnson helped fuel this fire, but they are committed to leaving the opioid industry – not just in New York City, but across the country,” he added.
This includes both the manufacture and sale of opioids, the statement said.
The $ 230 million (BRL 1.1 billion) will go towards prevention, treatment and awareness of the dangers of substances in New York State.
Johnson & Johnson, Purdue and other drug makers and distributors are accused of encouraging doctors to prescribe opioids – originally reserved for patients with severe cancers – even though they knew they were too addictive .
Since 1999, this addiction has led many drug addicts to take increasingly large doses and purchase illicit substances such as heroin or fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opioid with a high risk of fatal overdose.
Almost 500,000 people have died of drug overdoses in the United States since then.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country’s leading public health agency, estimates that 90,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020, most of them from opioids.
The US Department of Health calculates that the crisis was responsible for four years of declining life expectancy in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. The crisis has soared to the point where former President Donald Trump said a “national public health emergency” in October. 2017.
The CDC estimated in 2019 that the “economic burden” of the crisis, including health care costs, lost productivity and the costs of the criminal justice system, was US $ 78.5 billion (US $ 386.2 billion). of BRL) per year.
A study published by the American Society of Actuaries estimated the cost for the period 2015-2018 at $ 631 billion (BRL 3,100 billion).
In February, consulting firm McKinsey announced that it had agreed to pay $ 573 million (BRL 2.8 billion) to resolve lawsuits brought by nearly 40 U.S. states, which accused the company of contributing to the crisis. opioids through his advice to groups of pharmacists, including Purdue Pharma, maker of Oxycontin.