Johnson & Johnson will stop selling opioids in the US as part of $230 million settlement in New York

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Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson will no longer sell opioids in the US as part of a $230 million settlement with the state of New York.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the settlement was reached just days before the case was set to go to trial Tuesday on Long Island.

The settlement does not impact the numerous other lawsuits the company faces in other states across the US from state and local governments who allege Johnson & Johnson and other pharmaceutical companies helped create the opioid epidemic.

More than half a million people died from opioid use in the two decades between 1999 and 2019, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc on countless communities across New York state and the rest of the nation, leaving millions still addicted to dangerous and deadly opioids,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said Saturday in a statement.

“Johnson & Johnson helped fuel this fire, but today they’re committing to leaving the opioid business – not only in New York, but across the entire country,” she added.

Settlement talks between drug companies and state and local governments have ramped up in recent weeks as trials have begun in California and West Virginia, sources told the WSJ.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said the settlement Saturday with the state of New York was not an admission of liability of wrongdoing.

“The Company’s actions relating to the marketing and promotion of important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible,” it said.

The trial in New York was scheduled to begin in March 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the WSJ. Following New York’s settlement with Johnson & Johnson, the case will proceed next week with three other opioid makers, multiple drug distributors, and the pharmacy Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., according to the report.

It will be the first opioid case to be heard in front of a jury, the WSJ noted.

The first opioid trial in the US was in Oklahoma in 2019 resulted in a $465 million loss against Johnson & Johson, the WSJ reported. The company is appealing that ruling, the report said.

“Our trial against the remaining defendants will commence this coming week, where we will lay bare the callous and deadly pattern of misconduct these companies perpetrated as they dealt dangerous and addictive opioids across our state,” James said Saturday. “As always, our goal remains getting funds to those devastated by opioids as quickly as possible.”

The New York trial is expected to last for four months, according to the WSJ.

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‘There’s not one Scrooge McDuck, there’s a lot of them’: The Sackler family’s sprawling wealth became the focus of a Purdue Pharma bankruptcy hearing

sackler purdue pharma opioid oxycontin
  • A judge overseeing the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy case said the company’s wealth can’t be tied to one person.
  • “There’s not one Scrooge McDuck, there’s a lot of them,” Judge Robert Drain said.
  • If approved, the settlement would give the Sacklers immunity from future opioid-related lawsuits.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A judge overseeing a landmark bankruptcy hearing involving Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid OxyContin, said the company’s wealth can’t be tied to one person.

Judge Robert D. Drain of the Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court heard from attorneys for Purdue Pharma and the creditors seeking bankruptcy settlement from the company. The May 26 hearing was meant for parties to bring up objections to Purdue Pharma’s proposed disclosure agreement, which provides information on its finances to help creditors make an informed decision on the settlement plan.

During the hearing, representatives for the Department of Justice’s Trustees Group and a committee of 24 non-consenting US states asked to include more details regarding the finances of the Sacklers, the billionaire family that founded Purdue Pharma.

“It’s not like, as I gather, Scrooge McDuck who just takes a bath in vaults of cash he has in his apartment,” Judge Drain said. “There’s not one Scrooge McDuck, there’s a lot of them.”

During the May 26 hearing, a lawyer for the US Trustees Program requested Purdue Pharma explain why the settlement payout would take nine years to deliver and not be paid in a lump sum.

Though Forbes estimates the Sackler family’s net worth at $10.8 billion as of 2020, Darren S. Klein, an attorney from Davis Polk & Wardwell representing Purdue Pharma, said during the trial members of the family have different wealth depending on their ties to the company.

“There was very detailed financial diligence about individual wealth and liquidity of individual Sackler pods, which is why, each [side of the family] has a slightly different collateral package and a slightly different set of covenants,” Klein said. “I think that it is the debtor’s settlement and our job is to show that it’s reasonable, and not in fact to publish every piece of information.

But lawyers from Davis Polk & Wardwell agreed to include more detail regarding the Sackler family’s massive wealth in the disclosure agreement.

“We are delighted to add more language that the Sacklers would tell us if they believed in what Congress put out as having been submitted by the Sacklers is not correct,” Klein said, referring to a Congressional report that showed the Sackler family’s wealth totaled $11 billion. “We’re happy to.”

If approved by the court, the bankruptcy settlement would require the Sackler family to pay $4.2 billion to victims of the opioid crisis and forfeit control of Purdue Pharma, lawyers for Purdue Pharma said at the trial. But NPR’s Brian Mann reported the settlement would give the Sackler family immunity from all future opioid litigation.

State governments, school districts, Native American tribes, and doctors submitted objections to the disclosure agreement prior to the hearing, per court filings.

The litigation surrounding Purdue Pharma has caused a rift among the various members of the Sackler family, Patrick Radden Keefe detailed in his book “Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty.”

Though Arthur Sackler founded Purdue Pharma in 1952, his estranged brothers Mortimer and Raymond gained control of the company after Arthur died in 1987. Raymond Sackler’s son, Richard, was chairman of the board who guided Purdue Pharma during the approval and initial release of OxyContin in December 1995.

OxyContin was the “most prescribed brand name narcotic medication” for treating moderate to severe pain by 2001, according to a report by the US Government Accountability Office. Deaths from prescription opioid overdose quadrupled between 1999 to 2019, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 247,000 deaths from prescription opioid overdose over the last two decades.

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McKinsey has agreed to pay $573 million over its role in boosting opioid sales during an epidemic that has killed more than 450,000 Americans

FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin pills, made by Purdue Pharma LP sit on a counter at a local pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S., April 25, 2017.    REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo
Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma LP.

  • McKinsey has agreed to pay $573 million to settle investigations into its role in the opioid crisis.
  • The firm has been accused of boosting drug sales during the epidemic, but it won’t admit wrongdoing.
  • At least 450,000 Americans have died of an opioid overdose since 1999.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Global consulting firm McKinsey & Company has agreed to pay $573 million to settle investigations into its role in boosting the sales of opioid drugs amid an epidemic that has killed nearly half a million Americans, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

McKinsey will not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, which is expected to be filed on Thursday, after coming to an agreement with attorneys general in 47 US states, the District of Columbia, and five territories, according to The Times.

The settlement comes after court documents recently revealed states were pursuing the firm for advising Purdue Pharma LP, maker of OxyContin painkiller, and other opioid manufacturers on how to sell more opioids at the same time the country was attempting to address the opioid crisis.

From 1999 to 2018, 450,000 people died from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more: McKinsey says COVID-19 is just one of many supply-chain disruptions CEOs need to prepare for going forward

McKinsey’s settlement also includes limiting its work with some narcotics and making thousands of pages of documents publicly available, sources told The Times. They also said states are expected to use the settlement money on opioid treatment, prevention, and recovery.

McKinsey did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

In a statement in December, McKinsey said “we recognize that we did not adequately acknowledge the epidemic unfolding in our communities or the terrible impact of opioid misuse and addiction on millions of families across the country.”

Because of this, the statement said, the company stopped working with opioid-specific businesses in 2019.

The statement also said McKinsey’s “work with Purdue was designed to support the legal prescription and use of opioids for patients with legitimate medical needs, and any suggestion that our work sought to increase overdoses or misuse and worsen a public health crisis is wrong.”

Purdue Pharma, one of McKinsey’s clients, pled guilty to three criminal charges over its marketing of OxyContin as part of an $8 billion settlement in October. At the time, the Associated Press said it was “the highest-profile display yet of the federal government seeking to hold a major drugmaker responsible” for the opioid crisis.

Read the full story at The New York Times ยป

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