Mar 27, 2019

Why Purdue's opioids settlement matters

OxyContin pills. Photo: Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, was willing to pay handsomely to avoid a high-profile, televised trial over the company's role in the opioid crisis.

The big question: How much more is Purdue willing to pay to settle the 1,600 other lawsuits that have been consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio?

  • "It’s got to set off a feeding frenzy," University of Georgia law professor Elizabeth Burch said. "There’s blood in the water now."

Driving the news: Purdue reached a $270 million settlement yesterday with Oklahoma, where the first major trial over the opioid epidemic is set to begin in May.

Details, via the Wall Street Journal:

  • Purdue will pay Oklahoma just shy of $200 million, most of it to fund a new addiction treatment center. Members of the Sackler family, which founded and controlled Purdue during its OxyContin heyday, will contribute another $75 million.

What we're watching: Purdue has said it's considering declaring bankruptcy, which would likely limit plaintiffs' ability to collect damages they might win at trial.

  • That possibility "exerted powerful leverage at the bargaining table in Oklahoma," The New York Times reports, and could jump-start settlement talks in the larger, consolidated case as well.
  • Purdue's settlement doesn't affect the other companies Oklahoma is pursuing, including Johnson & Johnson.

Go deeper: Huge national opioids lawsuit moves forward

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Scoop: Census Bureau is paying Chinese state media to reach Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign, which sends U.S. taxpayer dollars to community media outlets to run ads about the upcoming census, is including a Chinese state-run broadcaster as one of its media vendors.

Why it matters: After China's yearslong campaign to co-opt independent Chinese-language media in the U.S., Washington is now paying Beijing-linked media outlets in order to reach Chinese Americans.

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Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

GOP congressman accuses California pension official of working for China

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The latest season of Red Scare has come to Sacramento.

Driving the news: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has repeatedly accused Ben Meng, chief investment officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), of tacitly working on behalf of the Chinese government. Banks also says that, were it up to him, Meng would be fired — and has questioned the patriotism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom for not at least investigating Meng.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - World