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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

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

5 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.