Seattle/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on June 18, 2024
Johnson & Johnson Settles for $123.34 Million with Washington in Opioid Lawsuit VictorySource: Blogtrepreneur, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Washington state's battle against opioid manufacturers marked a significant triumph as Johnson & Johnson agreed to a hefty settlement, writing a check for $123.34 million to state and local governments. This followed a lawsuit from Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who pursued the pharmaceutical giant for its role in the opioid epidemic, according to a report published by the Washington State Attorney General's Office.

The funds, stemming from the 2020 lawsuit, are earmarked exclusively for opioid crisis remediation, with half allocated to local governments and the remaining half directed towards the state Legislature, despite the vastness of the issue and the complexity of needs spread across diverse communities, the balance struck here aims to empower a myriad of stakeholders on the front lines, from first responders to treatment centers. Although how each local government will employ their share is ultimately left to their discretion, they operate within the mandate that these resources must bolster efforts aligned with the state Opioid Response Plan, as detailed in the aforementioned report.

Attorney General Ferguson, speaking on the landmark victory and the potential for remedial work it represents, stated, "We stood up to some of the world's largest corporations that fueled the epidemic in pursuit of profit—and we won more than $1 billion that will help communities recover from the opioid crisis," asserting a firm stance against industries that have been accused of prioritizing profit over public health, according to the Attorney General's Office.

The allocation of funds by the Legislature this year topped $52.3 million, going towards various agencies to combat the devastating effects the epidemic has wrought on communities further. This adds to more than $110 million in appropriations from Ferguson's opioid lawsuits since 2023. These critical infusions of support towards health care services for the incarcerated, tribal opioid prevention, EMS support, and community-based treatments, were all highlighted as significant investments in a determined, albeit diversified, response to a crisis that has left no corner of society untouched, as outlined in the report.

Moreover, Johnson & Johnson's settlement forms part of a broader collection of legal victories for Washington state under Ferguson's guidance, the cumulative recoveries now exceed $1 billion, including substantial settlements from pharmaceutical distributors, a manufacturer, and several chain pharmacies, along with an advisory firm, all of whom Ferguson took to task for their roles in the opioid crisis.

To view local governments' individual allotments from the Johnson & Johnson settlement, Washingtonians can refer to a spreadsheet available through the Attorney General's Office.