MT Weekly: J&J Mistrial Declared, ‘No JUULS’ Requested for Schools

Opioid Settlements Proposed

Public Health

Ireland-based generic pharmaceutical manufacturer Mallinckrodt agreed to a $30 million settlement with $24 million paid in cash and $6 million in drugs that include addiction treatment medications.

Additionally, last week, sources inside Purdue Pharmaceuticals negotiations say the company intends to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In doing this, their company would be dissolved and a new one, selling OxyContin and other medicines, would use its profits to pay the lawsuit plaintiffs. The company would also donate drugs for addiction treatment and overdose reversal, as noted by the New York Times. In this deal, the Sackler family would pay $3 billon over the course of seven years. If their settlement is not accepted, Purdue Pharmaceuticals and the Sackler Family vow to pursue bankruptcy protection. Despite hefty prospective payouts, no admission of guilt would be made under the settlement. Many believe the prospective settlement is insulting to victims.

Global Efforts Raise Awareness For HIV Patients

Advocacy

Last week, the North Dakota Community Planning Group for HIV and Viral Hepatitis Prevention, Care and Treatment (NDCPG) held its second annual HIV Awareness Walk. The organization’s intention is to improve statewide access to quality HIV prevention services.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, a $2.5 million federal grant from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has been given to Fulton County. This grant aims to provide assistance to Black and Latino men in the community, who are disproportionately affected by the epidemic. Retention of care and suppression rates among those who do have HIV are also intended goals of the grant.

Overseas, Glasgow, Scotland reports major strides in HIV treatment and prevention, with over 90% of people there living with diagnosed HIV seeking treatment. This fall, Johnson & Johnson will test an HIV vaccine across North America, South America, and Europe. Results will be available in 2021.

Expedited RoundUp Trial Requests

Legal Developments

Last Thursday, the lawsuits of a 13-year-old (“G.B.”) and 87-year-old (Cotton) who developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which they attribute to Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup, have placed requests for a speedy trial. Despite a state statute that allows minors, plaintiffs over age 70 and those with severe health conditions to cut the line in trial, Monsanto’s counsel, Sandra Edwards of Winston & Strawn LLP, refuted Cotton’s request. She claims the woman’s health records are “antiquated” and not reflective of her current health status.

These requests come amid 13,400 cases pending against Monsanto’s owner, Bayer, handled by Judge Winifred Smith. Still more plaintiffs seeking recourse, most recently Gerald Kubena of Casper, Wyoming, file lawsuits against Bayer for Roundup’s cancer-causing harm. Though science lacks definitive claims on the carcinogenic nature of the herbicide, Bayer faces a long legal path ahead.

Johnson & Johnson Cry Foul Following New Jersey Verdict

Legal Developments
Two weeks ago, Johnson & Johnson attorney Diane Sullivan’s closing argument was struck for suggesting that the evidence brought by four plaintiffs against the company was “lawsuit fiction.” Now, following a $37.7 million dollar verdict by the jury, Johnson & Johnson calls for a mistrial. The pharmaceutical company argues that the judge failed to clearly identify which of Sullivan’s remarks were problematic and instead delivered “a confusing and prejudicial tarring of J&J’s entire closing with one broad brush.”

Judge Ana C. Viscomi countered these claims, stating that Sullivan’s implications that the plaintiffs had manufactured evidence of their illness were out of order and that she had already reminded Sullivan of this throughout the trial.

Last week also saw the first talcum powder case in Georgia and a retrial in California regarding asbestos in talc products.

JUUL in Jeopardy

Legislation

JUUL Labs has received additional scrutiny from the federal government this past week as both the Federal Trades Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) crack down on the corporation. The FDA, spurred on by the House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, has been asked to take “appropriate enforcement action” on claims made by JUUL Labs that have been deemed fraudulent. One such claim mentioned was the implication that JUUL products are healthier than tobacco.

JUUL Labs also faces heat from the FTC over persistent claims that JUUL Labs made its $13 billion from advertising to minors. Additional lashback has come from civilians following an updated CDC report listing mortality statistics for e-cigarette deaths. Citizens now call to formally ban the presence of Juuls and e-cigarettes on school property.

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