Johnson & Johnson settles Ohio suits

This time, Johnson & Johnson settled instead of duking it out in court. The drug maker agreed to pay $20.4 million to two Ohio counties to settle claims over the opioid epidemic.

That will allow J&J to avoid the first federal trial later this month that's considered a bellwether for the thousands of lawsuits filed by state and local governments. The company became the fourth drugmaker to settle claims, leaving mostly drug distributors like Walgreens Boots Alliance and Amerisource Bergen as defendants in that Ohio case.

Johnson & Johnson said its settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing.

Wall Street welcomed the news, driving up J&J's shares amid a steep drop in the markets.

in an earlier opioid case brought by the state of Oklahoma, Johnson and Johnson had refused to settle. The judge later ordered the company to pay $572 million. Johnson & Johnson is appealing that verdict.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says opioids have been involved in 400,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. over an 18-year period.