Opioids

Legal Developments
New York Issues Subpoenas to Companies Connected to Sackler Family

Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma, brought OxyContin to market in 1995. Owned by the Sackler family, the company has recently been hit with allegations of driving the opioid crisis. Just last week, the New York state attorney general’s office began issuing subpoenas from banks and other companies with connections to the Sackler family in hopes of gleaning where money from opioid sales went. Of the 48 states who have filed legal claims against Purdue Pharma, 17 states, including Illinois, are reportedly suing members of the Sackler family. Illinois state attorney general, Kwame Raoul, expanded the scope of pending lawsuits against Purdue Pharma to include the Sackler family this past Wednesday.

Other opioid manufacturers, Endo International Plc and Allergan Plc, have agreed to pay a $15 million settlement to avoid taking an Ohio case to trial.

JUUL

Advocacy
JUUL Reports Profits Amid Nationwide Protests

In July, e-cigarette companies were ordered by a U.S. federal court to submit applications to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within 10 months in order to remain in the market. The deadline for companies to submit such applications had previously been 2022, but the sharp rise in youth vaping prompted the FDA to expedite review. After the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) has filed suit against the FDA for what they believe is an arbitrary and unmeetable deadline, JUUL Labs, formerly a member of the association, announced that they would not be renewing their membership with the industry group due to differences on “critical policy issues.” Bringing further surprise, the controversial e-cigarette company has revealed that it has raised $325 million in a debt and equity offering aimed at expanding global reach amid regulatory scrutiny in the U.S.

Mass disapproval of JUUL came to a head on Tuesday when dozens of protesters gathered at rally outside of Juul’s Manhattan offices. Advocates and parents called them out for marketing toward young adults and unethically causing addition in minors who are hooked on their flavored nicotine products. In New Jersey, officials have sent a statewide health alert to healthcare providers and local health departments after nine adverse reports related to JUUL products throughout the state.

Roundup

Legal Developments
Financial Awards Pending in Roundup Litigation

Lawyers representing Dewayne “Lee” Johnson in a California appeals court rejected efforts by Monsanto last week. The agrochemical giant attempted to overturn a jury verdict which initially awarded the school groundskeeper $289 million in total damages. The appeal was initiated last year, after the jury decision last August marked the first of three court losses for Monsanto. The appeal now awaits a decision, which is expected to be made by the end of the year. The result could significantly influence future compensation for injured parties as Monsanto’s German owner, Bayer AG, prepares to discuss global settlements on Roundup cancer litigation.

In other Roundup litigation, the Eighth Circuit Court upheld a $21.5 million dollar class action settlement for claims that Monsanto misled consumers about chemical concentration levels. Monsanto’s appeal claimed that the numbers used in the lower court revealing the concentration levels were “grossly inaccurate,” but the panel judges found the appeal failed to provide evidence that the numbers were inaccurate. 

Talcum Powder

Legal Developments
Johnson & Johnson Educator Admits to Never Reading Studies

Monday marked the sixth week of the New Jersey trial alleging that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused mesothelioma in users through asbestos contamination. Nancy Musco was called to the stand, speaking as a J&J manager of product safety and talc powder education and 30-year-veteran of the company. Under questioning, Musco admitted that she had never actually reviewed any of the studies that she provided to consumers when assuring them that J&J’s talc powder was safe. She told the jury, “my job was to reassure them that they could feel safe and comfortable using Johnson’s baby powder because there was zero asbestos.”

Musco went on to admit that she was only a “communicator” for the company and used information provided to her by the company’s legal and  admitted she was only a “communicator” and she used information provided by Johnson & Johnson’s legal and research & development departments. This testimony may serve to validate claims that Johnson & Johnson misled consumers about the safety of their talcum products. 

HIV

Medical Breakthrough
Decade-Old Sample of HIV Virus May Lead to New Discoveries

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine unveiled a momentous discovery: a sample of the HIV virus that dates back to 1966This new sample has allowed evolutionary pathologists to understand more about the HIV virus by tracing its evolutionary progression.

Meanwhile, Ontario, with the highest number of reported HIV cases in Canada at 39%, has approved a new HIV prevention pill with “virtually no side effects.” Among other HIV prevention strides, UK-based pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline, has made claims that their HIV prevention injection could successfully protect users for two months at a time. University of Liverpool and Queen’s University Belfast researchers have also made headway in the UK’s battle against HIV, creating a “microneedle” drug delivery system that delivers painless protection for weeks or even months.