The funds will be distributed to the counties subject to an allocation agreement with the state that is currently being finalized, according to Jayne Conroy, lawyer with Simmons Hanly Conroy, who is representing Suffolk County in the case.
The sprawling opioid case about to begin in New York was filed by the attorney general and by Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, and is being argued jointly. It includes claims that the companies, like Janssen, misled the public by initially denying the drugs were highly addictive, and aggressively marketed them as such, ignoring warnings of abuse as they chased profits.
The drugs that Janssen developed included a fentanyl patch and a tablet that was crush-resistant, marketed under names like Duragesic and Nucynta, which, according to Johnson & Johnson, accounted for less than one percent of total opioid prescriptions in the United States. It stopped marketing its opioids in 2016 in the United States and later discontinued the fentanyl patch. In 2020, it ceased production of the pill in the United States as well.
For years, Johnson & Johnson had supplied 60 percent of the ingredients that make opioids to companies that used them to make drugs like Oxycodone, contracting with poppy growers in Tasmania. In 2016, they sold the business that supplied the materials.
Johnson & Johnson has struggled under waves of bad publicity. It suffered a defeat in an opioid trial in 2019 when an Oklahoma judge ordered it to pay the state $465 million for its role in the public nuisance created by opioid addiction. It has been ordered to pay millions in courts that have found products like its talcum powder and hip implants to be harmful. Most recently, its coronavirus vaccine has been plagued by a troubled rollout.
The one-shot vaccine was initially seen as a vital tool in combating Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. But a host of concerns with production and the drug itself has seen the company’s product account for just about 12 million of the more than 320 million doses administered in the United States so far, according to C.D.C. data.
In April, federal health officials paused use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after cases of a rare blood-clotting disorder emerged as a side effect. In June, a mix-up in a Baltimore factory resulted in the government ordering the disposal of 60 million potentially contaminated vaccine doses.