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New York Attorney General Letitia James. Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson reached a $230 million settlement with the state of New York for its role in the opioid crisis, state Attorney General Letitia James announced Saturday.

The state of play: The company will also be required to stop manufacturing or selling opioids in New York. The agreement "acknowledges Johnson & Johnson’s exit from the opioid business nationally."

  • J&J may also be required to pay up to $30 million more during the next 12 months if a measure creating an opioid settlement fund becomes law, according to the state AG's press release.

What they're saying: "The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc on countless communities across New York state and the rest of the nation, leaving millions still addicted to dangerous and deadly opioids," James said in a statement.

  • "Johnson & Johnson helped fuel this fire, but today they’re committing to leaving the opioid business — not only in New York, but across the entire country. Opioids will no longer be manufactured or sold in the United States by J&J," she added.

Go deeper

Updated Sep 30, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on COVID-19 and America’s opioid crisis

On Thursday, September 30, Axios senior editor Sam Baker and health care editor Tina Reed explored how government, private sector and community efforts are responding to upsurges in COVID-19 cases and opioid deaths, featuring Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito highlighted how the COVID-19 crisis detracted attention from the addiction crisis all across the nation, the need to return to in-person crisis intervention teams despite the affordances of telemedicine, and how governments in West Virginia are refocusing efforts and resources on children and families affected by addiction.

  • On an example of localized intervention that helps West Virginia families: “There’s a program in West Virginia that started, it’s called Handle with Care. If a child is in a home and somebody maybe gets busted for drugs in the middle of the night, then that deputy or that sheriff who intervenes is going to call the school the next morning and say ‘Johnny has had a traumatic event in his family, please handle him with care.’”
  • On why the opioid crisis needs more government attention: “The numbers are staggering. The numbers of overdoses have gone way back up in the communities that were starting to see them go down, and so the families affected are going way up. I don’t think it’s going to take much for us to refocus on this simply because not only is it close to home, it’s expanding and it’s not getting better.”

Nora Volkow explained how pandemic stress and social isolation exacerbated addiction and how research is supporting better pain treatments so doctors don’t have to prescribe opiate medications.

  • On the recent significant increase in opioid overdose deaths: “It’s not surprising that in 2020, we’ve seen a 30% increase in the number of people that have died from overdoses from various types of drugs. The main culprits are opioids, of which the main driver is the very potent synthetic drug, fentanyl.”
  • On how current research is helping medical professionals combat this problem: “There are parallel tracks that aim to actually, on the one hand for example, advance research that actually can help us lead to better treatments of pain so that we don’t have to rely on opiate medications, that’s one component to it. And the other one is very much targeted, thoughtful understanding.”

Axios Chief Business Officer Fabricio Drumond hosted a View from the Top segment with Chief External and Government Relations Officer at Partnership to End Addiction

Marcia Lee Taylor, who discussed the role that stigma surrounding addiction plays in someone’s journey to recovery.

  • “Stigma is a giant stumbling block for people being able to get help. Unlike with other health conditions, people don’t talk to their doctor, they don’t talk to their neighbors. There’s a lot of shame about it because we for a long time in our country have treated addiction as a moral failing rather than a public health problem.”

Thank you Facebook for sponsoring this event.

Sep 24, 2021 - Health

Other drug companies want to help make the vaccines

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Generic drug companies have asked Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to license their COVID-19 vaccine technology to help increase global production, but so far the vaccine makers have given them the cold shoulder.

Why it matters: Other companies are saying they have extra capacity to make more vaccines. Not using that extra capacity could prolong the pandemic throughout the world.

Kate Marino, author of Markets
59 mins ago - Economy & Business

Omicron outbreaks were bad for business in January

Data: New York Federal Reserve Bank; Chart: Axios Visuals

Emerging anecdotal evidence shows just how hard the recent rise in COVID-19 cases hit businesses in early January — but that hasn't hurt some business leaders’ longer-term views on their companies' prospects.

Why it matters: Increasingly, the economic recovery has come in fits and starts that move in tandem with new peaks in cases. Look no further than the thousands of cancelled flights and shuttered Broadway theaters in the wake of the Omicron variant's spread over the last few months.

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