July 23, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — COVID-19 vaccine-maker Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and three major U.S. drug distributors have reached a landmark $26 billion settlement for the companies’ alleged responsibility in the ongoing national opioid epidemic which claimed a record-breaking 93,000 lives last year.
In the massive nation-wide settlement negotiated by 15 U.S. state attorneys general, opioid-manufacturer J&J — which also manufactures a double-shot COVID-19 injection — was “accused of downplaying the addiction risk in its opioid marketing” and directed to pay $5 billion over the span of nine years to resolve civil liability, according to CNBC.
Meanwhile U.S. drug distributors McKesson Corps, Cardinal Health Inc, and AmerisourceBergen Corp are set to pay a combined total of $21 billion over 18 years in consequence of their “lax controls that allowed massive amounts of addictive painkillers to be diverted into illegal channels, devastating communities.”
The opioid crisis has been raging in the United States for decades, but rose sharply last year amid unprecedented social isolation, lockdowns, joblessness, and difficulty obtaining appropriate medical care due to sweeping controls imposed allegedly to combat the spread of COVID-19.
A record 93,331 overdose deaths were recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. between January and December 2020, a nearly 30% increase above the previous year’s tally. The CDC found a “concerning acceleration” of overdose deaths spiking between March and May 2020, just when COVID-19-related restrictions took effect.
Powerful nations of the world, including China, the UK, and Canada are discussing plans to require so-called 'vaccine passports' as a condition for travel, and possibly to restrict entry to shopping and entertainment venues.
Israel has already put in place a system to discriminate against those who choose not to take the COVID vaccine, and, in the United States, Joe Biden has signed a new executive order which could pave the way for the implementation of a 'vaccine passport' system. [See more below.]
This kind of medical dictatorship must be resisted, and therefore, we must act quickly before these authoritarian notions take root and spread!
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to SAY NO to government 'vaccine passports.' Tell your legislators to respect your freedom not to vaccinate without fear of repercussion.
People should not have to live in fear of government retribution for refusing a vaccine which is being rushed to market by Big Pharma and their fellow-travelers in NGOs, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
It would be intolerable and immoral for the government to coerce someone, and their family, to take a COVID vaccine against their will just so they can do their weekly grocery shopping, go to a high school soccer game, travel on public transport, or visit their relatives who live in a different part of the country, or overseas.
Medical freedom must be respected in principle and also in practice.
So, it is now time that our policy-makers listen to all voices involved in this vital conversation, and start to represent those who will not tolerate being punished, restricted, or tracked for refusing an experimental vaccine.
Simply put, legislatures must begin to act as legislatures again.
Questions must be asked. Hearings and investigations must be held. And, the legislatures of each state and country must return to the business of representing the people who voted for them, assuming their rightful place as the originator of legislation.
We will no longer accept the dictates of executive branches without question. And, neither can we accept the dictates of some doctors who seem detached from reality and from science.
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition which asks national political leaders (as well as state and provincial legislators in the U.S. and Canada) to pledge to respect the rights of those who refuse a COVID vaccine, and NOT introduce 'vaccine passports,' or any other system which would discriminate on the basis of taking the COVID vaccine.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Biden executive order directs government to evaluate ‘feasibility’ of vaccine passports' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/biden-executive-order-directs-government-to-evaluate-feasibility-of-vaccine-passports
'China lobbies WHO to develop COVID vaccine passports for all nations' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/china-lobbies-who-to-develop-covid-vaccine-passports-for-all-nations
'UK advances plans for vaccine passports to travel, enter stores' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/uk-advances-plans-for-vaccine-passports-to-travel-enter-stores
'Canada’s health minister: Gov’t ‘working on the idea of vaccine passports’' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/canadas-health-minister-govt-working-on-the-idea-of-vaccine-passports
'European Commission president plans to introduce vaccine passports' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/european-commission-president-plans-to-introduce-vaccine-passports
'Israel’s ‘Green Passport’ vaccination program has created a ‘medical Apartheid,’ distraught citizens say' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/israels-green-passport-vaccination-program-has-created-a-medical-apartheid-distraught-citizens-say
'LA schools to track every kid using Microsoft’s ‘Daily Pass’ COVID app' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/la-schools-to-track-every-kid-using-microsofts-daily-pass-covid-app
According to the AP, experts have concluded that “[l]ockdowns and other pandemic restrictions isolated those with drug addictions and made treatment harder to get.”
J&J along with the three distributors named in the settlement have denied allegations that they failed to warn consumers of addiction risks or to prevent the drugs from being trafficked through illegal avenues.
The attorneys general negotiating the settlement disagreed, helping to craft what The Guardian reports is the “second-largest cash settlement ever, trailing only the $246bn tobacco agreement in 1998.”
Fellow Big Pharma titan and mRNA COVID-19 vaccine-maker Pfizer broke a record in a slightly different category back in 2009, agreeing to pay more than $2 billion to resolve civil and criminal liability for illegally misbranding or promoting drugs.
In what was the largest pharmaceutical settlement in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice at the time, Pfizer was forced to pay $2.3 billion “to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from the illegal promotion of certain pharmaceutical products.”
Per prior LifeSiteNews reporting, Pfizer’s subsidiaries pleaded guilty to a felony for misbranding a drug which had been pulled from the market, promoting its sale “for several uses and dosages that the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] specifically declined to approve due to safety concerns.”
The company paid out a $1.3 billion criminal fine, then another $1 billion “to resolve allegations” related to the illegal promotion of three other drugs.
Between 1991 and 2017, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca — three vaccine makers whose COVID shots are widely used across the world — have together paid out a total of $8.62 billion to resolve civil and criminal allegations in 67 state and federal settlements.
The current settlement involving Johnson & Johnson will reap financial restitution for claims that J&J failed to appropriately articulate the risk of addiction from the opioid drugs it produced.
The deal comes on the heels of a 2019 Oklahoma ruling which forced the pharmaceutical giant to pay $572 million for its role in Oklahoma’s opioid epidemic, while just last month J&J settled for $230 million for its culpability in New York’s drug crisis.
Connecticut attorney general William Tong, who helped negotiate the nationwide settlement, put out a message July 22, 2021 announcing the “historic $26 billion settlement with opioid distributors and manufacturers,” saying the money “will go directly to abatement of the opioid addiction crisis, including funding for treatment, prevention programs and resources.”
“While nothing will bring back the lives of the thousands of people Connecticut families have lost to the addiction crisis,” Tong said, “this money goes a long way to making sure that we can stop this epidemic.”
While nothing will bring back the lives of the thousands of people Connecticut families have lost to the addiction crisis, this money goes a long way to making sure that we can stop this epidemic.
— AG William Tong (@AGWilliamTong) July 22, 2021
The Guardian notes that the ongoing opioid epidemic has been implicated in the overdose deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans since 1999.
While the crisis has been widespread, its impact has been felt differently in varying regions of the U.S., leading to a lack of consistency in responses from government leaders.
The proposed settlement involving J&J and the three drug distributors requires the sign-on of at least 44 states to receive some of the cash, while 48 states must signal their affirmation for the full amount to be paid out.
98% of litigating local governments must also agree, along with 97% of those jurisdictions which haven’t yet sued.
A base payment up to $12.12 billion would be provided under the settlement if all states agree, with an additional $10.7 billion in “incentive payments based on various factors concerning participation by localities,” The Guardian reports.
States will have 30 days to approve the deal, while local governments are given up to 120 days to join the settlement.
Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, an online credit card processing company, was critical of the impact the settlement will make, alleging that though the payout “sounds like a lot… the four companies make $26 billion every two weeks.”
The big opioid distributors settled for $26 billion after opioids killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Sounds like a lot. Except the four companies make $26 billion every two weeks.
No one goes to jail, and the penalty is just a cost of doing businesshttps://t.co/snWbe5Itwn
In addition to its opioid settlements, J&J has faced a series of other controversies just this year, most notably involving a talc baby-powder lawsuit and serious safety risks associated with its COVID-19 shots.
In June 2021, a Missouri Appeals Court rejected the Big Pharma corporation’s effort to appeal a 2018 decision by a Missouri Circuit Court which awarded a $4.7 billion payout to 22 women who developed ovarian cancer caused by asbestos in the company’s talc baby powder. The Appeals Court reduced the verdict to $2.12 last billion year but maintained the finding of “significant reprehensibility” in J&J’s actions, saying the company failed to warn consumers of the danger.
Earlier this year, the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer faced controversy after reports of potentially life-threatening blood clots associated with the vaccine were reported to the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), leading to a temporary pause of J&J’s vaccine rollout in April.
Just last week, the FDA added a label to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet warning of a risk of a rare neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) that can cause paralysis.
Data released last week from the VAERS system recorded 491,218 total adverse events in the United States following injections of experimental COVID-19 shots from all manufacturers, including 11,405 deaths and 36,015 hospitalizations between Dec. 14, 2020, and July 16, 2021.
The figures are based on voluntary reports to the database, which relies upon passive reporting and bears a disclaimer that reports must be reviewed to determine causal relationships. However, a Harvard Pilgrim study suggested that less than 1% of adverse effects from vaccines are reported to VAERS, implying that reported numbers may actually be far lower than real-world events.