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J&J Reaches Opioid Deal With Recalcitrant New Mexico State

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Johnson & Johnson said Friday it had agreed to pay $44 million to resolve allegations that it fueled the opioid epidemic in New Mexico, a state that initially opted out of a settlement. nationwide resolving thousands of similar cases.

The drugmaker said the $44 million was in line with the terms of a proposal for J&J and drug distributors McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp and Cardinal Health Inc to pay up to $26 billion to resolve cases at national scale.

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New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas initially declined to participate in those settlements, but last month said the state would participate in the distributors’ $21 billion deal. He did not join J&J’s $5 billion deal at that time, however.

Under Friday’s agreement, J&J agreed to pay New Mexico its share of the national settlement in 2022, rather than over several years, if all of its cities and counties signed on by May 31.

“Opioids have destroyed families in New Mexico, and local communities and addiction professionals still need vital funding to save lives and fight this tragic ongoing epidemic,” Balderas said in a statement. .

More than 3,300 lawsuits, largely brought by states and local governments, are pending, seeking to hold these companies and others accountable for an opioid abuse crisis that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of overdose death.

How much of the $26 billion the companies will ultimately have to pay and how much pending litigation they will face will depend on state and local government involvement.

Supporters of the settlement recently extended to Jan. 26 a deadline for cities and counties in states that backed the proposal to join the agreements, citing the possibility of more states joining.

Nevada and Georgia agreed this month to participate. Six states have not settled with some or all of the four companies. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)