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June 28, 2021

Around the nation: J&J settles N.Y. opioid case for $230 million

Daily Briefing

    Johnson & Johnson in a statement said the settlement was "not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company," in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, Missouri, and New York.

    • California: McDonald's restaurants in California, in partnership with the state's Department of Public Health, are offering customers free coronavirus vaccines and a free menu item with their shot. According to McDonald's, there are over 70 locations in the state participating in the initiative (Lonas, The Hill, 6/23).
    • Missouri: Judge Jon Beetem on Wednesday ruled against a lawsuit that would have required Gov. Mike Parson (R) to implement a voter-approved ballot measure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Beetem in his ruling said the ballot measure was unconstitutional, as it aimed to spend state funds without identifying a source for that funding, thereby infringing on the state legislature's appropriations authority. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case said they will appeal the decision (Sullivan, The Hill, 6/23; AP/Modern Healthcare, 6/23).
    • New York: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) said it would $230 million to New York state to settle a lawsuit claiming the drug manufacturer contributed to the opioid epidemic, as well as an additional $33 million for attorneys' fees and costs, state Attorney General Letitia James announced on Sunday. According to James, J&J as part of the settlement also agreed to permanently cease manufacturing and distributing opioids in the United States, something the company said it has already stopped doing. The settlement removes J&J from a trial set to start on Tuesday in Long Island, but not from several other opioid-related lawsuits it faces across the nation. J&J, along with AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson have been in broader settlement discussions with more than 3,000 local governments throughout the country since late 2019 to resolve these ongoing lawsuits for $26 billion. Speaking of the New York lawsuit, J&J in a statement said the settlement was "not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company," and that its actions "relating to the marketing and promotion of important prescription pain medications were appropriate and responsible" (AP/ABC News, 6/26; Randazzo, Wall Street Journal, 6/26; Nir, New York Times, 6/26).

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