Orange County will receive a minimum of $1,292,727.87 as part of a statewide settlement of claims against Johnson & Johnson/Janssen with the potential to receive as much as $3,016,936.42 if counties across the State likewise settle their cases with Johnson & Johnson.
County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus directed the county attorney in late 2016 to take steps to sue various opioid manufacturers/distributors. Orange County became the fourth of New York’s 57 counties (outside of New York City) to commence action against opioid manufacturers in May 2017, joining with Suffolk, Erie and Broome counties.
The funding, when finalized, will largely be directed to fighting opioid abuse.
“Opioid manufacturers and distributors knowingly allowed people to become addicted to their drugs, causing rather than reducing pain to families, communities, and the patients themselves,” Neuhaus said in the press release announcing the settlement. “These funds will not bring back loved ones lost to the opioid epidemic but will hopefully assist others in getting help with their opioid addictions.”
The funding is part of a $98 million settlement that Johnson & Johnson/Janssen reached in New York State to finalize litigation pertaining to the company’s alleged role in the increased use and abuse of opioids. The drugs have been blamed for overdose deaths. Orange County had 121 opioid-related fatalities in 2020 and 69 this year.
“These funds can help us save lives,” said Orange County Legislator Janet Sutherland, the chairperson of the Legislature’s Opioid Addiction Committee. “Working closely with County leadership and key staff, we can provide funding for mental health and addiction programs and preventive efforts. In addition, we will continue to work with non-profits and physicians to bring heightened awareness to this critical issue.”