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West Virginia To Receive $99 Million Settlement From Opioid Maker Janssen

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey gives opening arguments Monday, April 4, 2022. on the first day of the trial against Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc., Allergan and their family of companies accused of misrepresenting the risks and benefits of opioids, in the Kanawha County Courthouse in Charleston, W.Va. (Kenny Kemp/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP)

PARKERSBURG – West Virginia has settled for $99 million with one of three drug makers on trial in Charleston in a civil case claiming they misrepresented the risks with opioid medications, the attorney general announced on Monday.

The agreement with Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Cos. was announced at the resumption of trial Monday morning by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Trial started April 4 in Kanawha County Circuit Court on a lawsuit by Morrisey claiming Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergan didn’t disclose the risks and benefits of opioids and contributed in part to the crisis.

The settlement with Johnson and Johnson will rank West Virginia first in the amount of per-capita allocation, Morrisey said.

“We’re pleased with the settlement,” Morrisey said at a press conference Monday morning.

Johnson and Johnson issued a statement Monday morning saying the agreement resolves the opioid claims against it, but is not an admission of wrongdoing.

The agreement removes the company from the trial, Johnson and Johnson said. The case continues against Teva and Allergan.

“The $99 million settlement will directly support local community efforts to seek meaningful progress in addressing the opioid crisis in West Virginia.,” Johnson & Johnson said in the statement. “This settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing and marks continued progress in resolving opioid-related claims and litigation by states, cities, counties, and other subdivisions in the United States. The company will continue to defend against any litigation that the final agreement does not resolve.”

Johnson & Johnson also said its “marketing and promotion of important prescription opioid medications were appropriate and responsible.”

DURAGESIC, NUCYNTA and NUCYNTA ER accounted for less than 1% of total opioid prescriptions in West Virginia and the U.S. since launch, the company said. Johnson & Johnson also no longer sells prescription opioid medications in the United States “as part of its ongoing efforts to focus on transformational innovation and serving unmet patient needs,” the company said.

Morrisey has opposed the national per capita-based distribution of settlement funds. It should instead be based on severity and not on population, he said.

The state will receive a lump-sum payment 45 days after approval by the political subdivisions, which will be allocated through the West Virginia First Memorandum of Understanding approved in February, Morrisey said. Most of the cities and counties in West Virginia have approved the memorandum, he said.

According to the allocation formula, 3% will go into a trust fund held by the state, 24.5% to cities and counties and 72.5% to the West Virginia First Foundation for opioid response, Morrisey said.

The state is prepared to proceed with the trial against Teva and Allergan, Morrisey said.

“We believe we have a very strong case against Teva and Allergan,” he said.

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