Johnson & Johnson reaches $20.4 million settlement agreement with two Ohio counties ahead of opioid trial

A federal judge presiding over a historic civil lawsuit in Ohio against drug distributors, pharmacies and retailers for their roles in the opioid crisis on Thursday denied a motion to step down on grounds he has shown bias.

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson reached a $20.4 million settlement agreement with two Ohio counties ahead of the landmark opioid trial scheduled to start later this month, the company announced Tuesday.

Johnson & Johnson would provide $10 million to Cuyahoga and Summit counties and $5 million to reimburse legal and other expenses. The company would also give $5.4 million to non-profit groups in connection with opioid-related programs for both counties.

CNN has reached out to an attorney for the plaintiffs and officials at both counties for comment.

“The settlement allows the Company to avoid the resource demands and uncertainty of a trial as it continues to seek meaningful progress in addressing the nation’s opioid crisis,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. “The Company recognizes the opioid crisis is a complex public health challenge and is working collaboratively to help communities and people in need.”

Johnson & Johnson noted the proposed settlement would resolve “all of the counties’ claims with no admission of liability,” according to a statement.

The landmark trial is scheduled to begin October 21 and combines nearly 2,000 cases involving cities, counties, communities and tribal lands. It accuses drug manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies and practitioners of shipping “hundreds of millions” of suspicious opioid doses over 20 years to their jurisdictions.

In August, a state judge in Oklahoma issued a landmark decision directing Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for its part in that state’s opioid crisis. Oklahoma reached settlements with two other opioid drugmakers: a $270 million deal with Purdue Pharma, and an $85 million settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of the world’s leading providers of generic drugs.


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