The opioid industry faces sweeping legal challenges. Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty

Cities and counties in Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee have filed lawsuits over the past couple weeks against opioid manufacturers and drug distributors, accusing the companies of pushing doctors to prescribe addictive painkillers and failing to monitor where the drugs have been going, which has led to the country's staggering opioid crisis.

Why it matters: These lawsuits continue to pile up and have the potential to lead to large settlements — if judges accept the legal theories.

The latest examples: The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, the largest Native American tribe east of the Mississippi River, said in a lawsuit this week the drug companies and wholesalers "created the foreseeable opioid crisis" and forced the tribe to spend tens of millions of their limited dollars on drug recovery and treatment.

Johnson County, Tennessee, which was featured in an October NBC News story about babies who are born addicted to opioids, said in its lawsuit that "in 2016 for every 100 Johnson County residents, there were 106.6 opioid prescriptions dispensed."

The companies being sued: Several of the largest opioid makers, including Purdue Pharma and Johnson & Johnson, as well as the big three drug distributors, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.

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48 mins ago - World

EU threatens Belarus with sanctions amid third night of unrest

Belarus riot police detain protesters in Minsk on Tuesday. Photo: Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

The European Union warned Tuesday it could reimpose sanctions on Belarus as riot police clashed for a third night with demonstrators protesting this week's elections that the EU described as "neither free nor fair," per the Guardian.

Why it matters: The EU removed most sanctions against Belarus four years ago, after "Europe's last dictator" Alexander Lukashenko released political prisoners and permitted protests, AP notes. The EU said in a statement Tuesday it would be "conducting an in-depth review" into its relations with former Soviet country over his elections win claim and the deadly crackdown on protesters.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 20,284,882 — Total deaths: 741,126— Total recoveries: 12,585,473Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 5,141,208 — Total deaths: 164,537 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. States: Georgia reports 137 coronavirus deaths, setting new daily record Florida reports another daily record for deaths.
  4. Health care: Trump administration buys 100 million doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: Moderna reveals it may not hold patent rights for vaccine.
  6. Sports: Big Ten scraps fall football season.
  7. World: Anthony Fauci "seriously" doubts Russia's coronavirus vaccine is safe

Ilhan Omar wins Minnesota primary

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) won the Democratic primary against lawyer Antone Melton-Meaux on Tuesday evening, AP reports.

Why it matters: The race is one that's played out across the U.S. as progressives continue to sweep party nominations. Omar's win officially means all four progressive members of "The Squad" have won their primary elections.