Janssen Pharmaceuticals – owned by personal care giant Johnson & Johnson – recently settled for $20.4 million with two Ohio counties over its role in expanding the opioid epidemic there. The two counties are Cuyahoga and Akron’s Summit, both of which fall within the boundaries of the Cleveland metropolitan area. From the $20.4 million settlement, $10 million will be paid directly to the counties, with $5 million for legal fees and $5.4 million reserved for non-profit organizations fighting the crisis. While Johnson & Johnson made no admission of liability in the deal, the timing here is important: The massive settlement comes in advance of a major federal opioid trial that will be held in Cleveland on October 21st.
How Have Opioids Affected Ohio?
In both Cuyahoga and Akron’s Summit, the ongoing opioid crisis has devastated residents, causing overdose rates and other addiction-related illnesses to steadily increase over time. Compared with other states, Ohio already has one of the highest rates of fatal opioid overdoses, ranking second in the entire nation at over 46 deaths per 100,000. Although the vast majority of opioid deaths stem from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, most medical experts agree that prescription drug dependencies are the primary cause for synthetic opioid abuse, as well as for illegal opiate drugs like heroin. The opioid problem has been catastrophic for our local communities, which now face growing prison populations and a serious strain on the state’s child welfare programs. It’s also believed that the crisis costs over $5 billion for the Ohio economy each year, putting a dangerous damper on both short- and long-term economic growth.
Holding Opioid Manufacturers Accountable
Ohio isn’t the only state with multiple county and city governments lining up to sue: In fact, 48 states have now filed class action lawsuits against major pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma, and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. In the first-ever federal opioid trial on October 21st, the courts will decide whether all of these companies committed “gross negligence” in marketing, selling, and prescribing opioids to the masses. Along with the recent $20 million judgment in Cuyahoga and Akron’s Summit, there have been other strong signs that these companies will be forced to carry accountability for their actions. Last month, Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, pledging to re-brand as a non-profit dedicated to ending the opioid crisis. Additionally, an Oklahoma judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay out $572 million to the state in August.
What Can I Do About My Opioid Injuries?
There was simply no legal or moral excuse for the pharmaceutical companies to knowingly sell dangerous narcotic drugs without providing clear warnings. It can take many years to heal those affected by opioid addiction – and the human cost of addiction also exacts a terrible toll on users’ day-to-day lives. When opioid litigation is successful, however, individual plaintiffs and state governments alike can find hope for the future through financial recovery. Whether you have a claim against a specific physician who over-prescribed opioid medications or against the pharmaceutical companies that created them, our team at Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A. can help you seek the justice you deserve. We want to assist our clients with navigating the claims process so that they can finally begin to heal and move forward. Need to file an opioid lawsuit? Call (419) 719-5195 today for a consultation with our team.