The producer of 'The Conners' has defended how they handled Roseanne Barr's exit.

The 65-year-old actress has bemoaned how the death of her on-screen character - who passed away from an accidental opioid overdose - was ''grim and morbid'' but now executive producer Tom Werner has spoken out about why they decided to ''shine a light'' on drug issues with the show.

During a panel at The Paley Center for Media in New York City, he said: ''I think it was important that we all be respectful of Roseanne Conner and Roseanne Barr, but as we talked about it ... what made the show work for us is I think we were touching on themes that were very relevant to our audience. There are a lot of choices in television, but this is a show about a working-class family that is very identifiable to the audience. When we talked about what to do moving forward ... if you'd seen the show in the last year, Roseanne Conner was struggling with a drug [addiction].

''This is a problem - and again, we're doing a comedy - this is a problem that has affects tens of thousands of people, opioid addiction - 80,000 people died last year dealing with opioid addiction and overdose. We felt that this is something that could shine a light on. I think there will be people talking about this and how it affects the family. It obviously touches on healthcare issues and the fact that Marcy Bellinger was sharing drugs with other people in the community. In part, it's because we know prescription drugs are expensive ... I think this was an honest and authentic way of dealing with Roseanne Conner.''

In a statement, Roseanne and her mentor Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said it was a decision the network ''didn't have to make''.

She said: ''While we wish the very best for the cast and production crew of 'The Conners', all of whom are deeply dedicated to their craft and were Roseanne's cherished colleagues, we regret that ABC chose to cancel 'Roseanne' by killing off the Roseanne Conner character. That [the character's death] was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show. This was a choice the network did not have to make.''

Roseanne's axe was triggered by her offensive tweet about Valerie Jarrett - a senior adviser to former US President Barack Obama - earlier this year.