Johnson & Johnson inks eleventh-hour opioid settlement worth $40.5M with New Hampshire

In another opioid-related settlement for Johnson & Johnson, the company has agreed to pay tens of millions of dollars to settle litigation in New Hampshire.

The state sued the company back in 2018, alleging that J&J's subsidiaries “aggressively marketed” opioid painkillers and falsely hawked them as safer than alternatives. Now, just before a trial was set to begin next week, J&J agreed to pay the state $40.5 million.

Of the total, $31.5 million of the settlement money will be used to curb the opioid epidemic in the state.

J&J maintains that its actions were "appropriate and responsible."

"This settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing and marks continued progress in resolving opioid-related claims and litigation," the company said in a statement, adding that it will continue to defend against opioid-related litigation. J&J no longer sells prescription opioid medication in the U.S. as part of its "ongoing efforts to focus on transformational innovation and serving unmet patient needs," the company added.

For J&J, the New Hampshire agreement pales in comparison to other settlements. As part of a national settlement with distributors, the company has agreed to pay up to $5 billion over nine years.

For its part, New Hampshire made the decision not to join that deal because of the severity of the opioid crisis in the state, and because the state had already devoted “significant litigation resources” at the time of the national settlement, according to a release from the state's attorney general, John Formella. The state considered the terms of the national settlement to be “significantly less favorable” to New Hampshire than if it pursued its claims alone.

Aside from the nationwide deal, J&J recently shelled out $70.3 million to settle opioid claims in Alabama and $99 million in a West Virginia settlement. Opioid settlements continue to roll in across the industry, with AbbVie’s Allergan gearing up to pay out more than $2 billion for its claims. Teva recently agreed to pay up to $4.25 billion in a nationwide settlement.