Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s three largest drug distributors are on the verge of a $26 billion settlement over their role in the opioid epidemic covering thousands of lawsuits from states and cities. Still several steps away from a formal agreement, the settlement would see the money largely going to addiction and prevention services across the U.S. It comes as other trials are imminent and as opioids — both legal prescription drugs and illegal — have been linked to hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths in the U.S. over the last 20 years. In New Jersey, more than 3,000 people died of drug-related causes in 2020 alone; so far in 2021, that number has already hit a record high.
In a statement, Johnson & Johnson stood by its previous commitment to contribute up to $5 billion to the national settlement and added that settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing.