US & Canada

Johnson & Johnson reaches settlement with Ohio over opioid crisis

Johnson & Johnson sign Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The healthcare giant says the deal was not an admission of guilt over opioid addiction in Ohio

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to a $20.4m (£16.6m) settlement with two counties in the US state of Ohio.

The healthcare giant said it was made to avoid a trial on allegations of fuelling opioid addiction in the state.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that the deal was not an admission of liability for the state's epidemic.

It is the fourth drugmaker to settle claims in Ohio amid more than 2,600 lawsuits by state and local governments against painkiller manufacturers.

Tuesday's announcement comes after a landmark ruling in August which ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $572m (£468m) for its part in fuelling Oklahoma's opioid addiction crisis.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said it would pay $10m to Cuyahoga and Summit counties, and another $5m to cover their legal expenses.

Another $5.4m will be given to charities involved with opioid-related programs in the counties.

What is the opioid crisis?

Opioids are a group of drugs that range from codeine, to illegal drugs like heroin.

Prescription opioids are primarily used for pain relief. They can be highly addictive.

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Media captionOn America's trail of destruction

On average, 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Opioids were involved in almost 400,000 overdose deaths in the US from 1999 to 2017, according to its research.

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