Jan 29, 2019

Opioid makers' first day in court

Oxycodone. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

For the first time, a pharmaceutical CEO is officially on trial for charges related to the opioid crisis. Opening arguments began yesterday in the trial of former Insys CEO John Kapoor, who — along with four other Insys executives — faces racketeering charges over the marketing of Subsys, a prescription fentanyl product.

Driving the news: Kapoor's lawyer sought to shift the blame to other Insys employees, Bloomberg reports, telling the jury during her opening statement that one of those employees hid payments to doctors from the CEO.

Why it matters: The judge in the Insys case told jurors yesterday not to let it become a “referendum on U.S. health-care policy," per Bloomberg.

  • But as the first trial of its kind, lawyers will inevitably be scrutinizing this case for signals and lessons that could inform future legal proceedings. That includes Massachusetts’ lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and members of the Sackler family, who ran the company and oversaw its aggressive marketing.

Speaking of which: A Massachusetts judge ruled yesterday that Massachusetts' full, un-redacted complaint against Purdue must be released publicly. Purdue had fought the full release of the complaint, pitting it against the state attorney general as well as several news outlets.

Go deeper: Where the national opioids lawsuit could be headed

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Ivanka Trump plans focus on coronavirus recovery for small businesses

Ivanka Trump speaks at yesterday's White House videoconference with bank and credit card executives. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Ivanka Trump personally lobbied top bank executives to line up the $1.5 billion in commitments to small business that were announced yesterday at a videoconference among the bank executives and President Trump — stoking competitive juices among the execs to drive up their commitments.

The state of play: Ivanka, who has had workforce development in her portfolio going back to 2017, plans an increasing emphasis on small businesses in the weeks ahead as they navigate the rescue bill’s Payroll Protection Program, sources tell me.

Public transit's death spiral

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public transit systems across the country are experiencing a painful trifecta: Ridership has collapsed, funding streams are squeezed, and mass transit won't bounce back from the pandemic nearly as fast as other modes of transportation.

Why it matters: Transit agencies could see an annual shortfall of as much as $38 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to TransitCenter. At the same time, they're more important than ever, with more than 36% of essential workers relying on public transportation to get to work.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: London mayor says U.K. nowhere near lockdown lifting

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered hope in the fight against the novel coronavirus, saying she believes New Zealand has "turned a corner" after two weeks of strict lockdown measures. But London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the U.K. is "nowhere near" lifting restrictions.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Global recoveries have surpassed 301,000. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000). Half the planet's population is on lockdown.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health