New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference to announce criminal justice reform on May 21, 2021 in New York City, United States.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Johnson & Johnson has reached a $ 230 million settlement with New York State that prevents the company from promoting opioids and has confirmed that sales of such products have ceased in the United States.

New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office said in a statement Saturday the agreement prohibits J&J from promoting opioids by any means and prohibits lobbying for such products at the federal, state or local levels.

Johnson & Johnson said it has not marketed any opioids in the US since 2015 and has ceased business entirely in 2020.

As part of the settlement, the company will settle opioid-related claims and spread payments over nine years. It could also pay $ 30 million more in the first year if the state executive board signs a new law creating an opioid settlement fund, according to the press release from James’ office.

The settlement follows years of lawsuits filed by states, cities, and counties against large pharmaceutical companies over the opioid crisis that killed nearly 500,000 people in the United States over the past few decades.

Governments have argued that companies have prescribed the medication too often, causing people to become addicted and abuse other illegal forms of opioids, while companies have stated that they have distributed the required amount of the product to people with medical problems help.

“The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc in countless communities in New York state and the rest of the nation, and millions are still addicted to dangerous and deadly opioids,” James said in a statement.

“Johnson & Johnson helped start that fire, but today they are pledging to leave the opioid business – not just in New York but across the country,” she said. “J&J no longer makes or sells opioids in the United States.”

The New York opioid lawsuit against the rest of the defendants will begin this week, according to the announcement. Other defendants in the New York lawsuit include Purdue Pharma; Mallinckrodt LLC; Endo health solutions; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA; and Allergan Finance LLC.

In a statement on Saturday, Johnson & Johnson said the settlement was “not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the company” and “in line with the terms of the previously announced $ 5 billion settlement agreement in principle for opioid settlement “. and claims from states, cities, counties, and tribal governments. “

The company also said it will continue to defend itself against lawsuits that the definitive deal won’t resolve.

James said the state will focus on funding opioid prevention, treatment and education efforts to “prevent any future devastation”.