NH reaches $40.5 million opioid settlement with Johnson & Johnson

·2 min read

Sep. 1—CONCORD — Johnson and Johnson has agreed to pay $40.5 million to settle with the state over the company's role in the opioid epidemic.

The company will make a single payment of $39.6 million to the state and pay about $900,000 in fees to attorneys for counties, cities and towns that filed lawsuits against the company prior to Sept. 1, 2019.

The state will receive $31.5 million, after payment of litigation costs and fees to its outside attorneys, according to an announcement Thursday. Nearly $5 million of that will go to 23 counties and communities — including Manchester and Nashua — that filed opioid lawsuits.

The settlement comes before the state's trial against Johnson & Johnson was scheduled to begin on Sept. 7 in Merrimack County Superior Court.

The state didn't join a national settlement with Johnson & Johnson and will get more money under this settlement, which will be paid in one payment rather than over nine years under the national settlement, according to the Attorney General's Office.

Under state law, those funds must be used for opioid abatement purposes, with $4,725,000 of that to be split among those 23 counties, cities and towns.

"Today's settlement continues our efforts to hold opioid companies accountable for their role in creating this epidemic, and this settlement represents another successful push to get more resources for New Hampshire to align with the disproportionate impact that this crisis has had on our state," Attorney General John Formella said in a statement.

Four years ago, the state Attorney General's Office filed a complaint against Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, both wholly owned subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson

The state alleged that Johnson & Johnson aggressively marketed its opioids to prescribers and patients in New Hampshire and misrepresented that its opioids were safer than other alternatives. The state also accused Johnson & Johnson of giving misleading statements about opioids, that it promoted the false concept of "pseudoaddiction" and that it misrepresented that their opioids were rarely addictive when used for chronic pain.

The company's marketing also targeted particularly vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, even though opioid use among the elderly carries a heightened risk of overdose, injury and death.

The 23 government entities to split the nearly $5 million are all 10 counties plus Belmont, Berlin, Claremont, Concord, Derry, Dover, Franklin, Keene, Laconia, Londonderry, Manchester, Nashua and Rochester.