States and cities close to interim $ 26 billion opioid deal
Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers are on trial in California state court and just settled with New York state and two New York counties last month, on the eve of trial. The money for the New York settlement, $ 230 million, will be paid over nine years with an additional $ 33 million for legal fees and fees, which will be deducted from the national amount, if finalized.
Indeed, one of the sticking points for years was attorney fees. Countless lawyers provided different amounts of work and during negotiations they were arguing over who should be paid how much. According to the settlement, approximately $ 1.6 billion in fees and expenses would be paid to private attorneys representing thousands of counties and municipalities, $ 50 million in fees and approximately $ 350 million to private attorneys who worked. for states.
Johnson & Johnson, widely known as a company that prefers to take cases to court rather than settle, has faced rivers of negative publicity in recent years. Last month the Supreme Court of the United States leave a $ 2.1 billion verdict against the company for asbestos-related deaths linked to its talcum powder. The company has also been affected by reports of rare cases of blood clotting and a neurological condition associated with its single-dose Covid vaccine and a recall of some of its sunscreens.
But plaintiffs also faced increasing pressure to settle, as legal fees increased.
And the most urgent, the number of persons addicted to prescription opioids and illicit drugs during the pandemic. Last week, the federal government announced that 2020 saw a record number of opioid overdose deaths, both illegal and prescribed.
Notably, the settlement funds are not intended to compensate the families of victims of the two-decade opioid crisis, in which at least 500,000 people have died of prescription and street opioid overdoses, according to federal data.
These cases were brought in largely by state, municipal and tribal governments under a theory known as “public nuisance” – that companies in the opioid supply chain were responsible for creating ‘a disaster that interfered with public health. The remedy for a public nuisance claim is “reduction” – money for programs to reduce “nuisance.”
While critics of the current regulation argue that distributors have 17 years to pay their share, supporters of the agreement note that for programs such as drug prevention, education and treatment to take root, infusions money will be needed over an extended period of time.
Sarah Maslin Nir contributed reporting.