Opioids Crisis: A New Bill and Statewide Arrests

Bill H. 3656 was proposed in Boston last week, attempting to curb overprescription of opioids. If passed, the bill would require practitioners who prescribed a patient opioids to cover “payment of the first 90 days of in-patient hospitalization costs if the patient becomes addicted and is subsequently hospitalized.”

Also in Massachusetts, the end of a 10-week crackdown by the police force resulted in the arrest of 38 people for drug distribution. The operation, which utilized federal, state, and local agencies, brought specific attention to a region known as “Devil’s Highway” -- a known “hub of illegal drug distribution for all of New England,” according to U.S. attorney, Andrew E. Lelling.

Talcum Powder: Johnson & Johnson's Directed Motion Request Denied

In recent talc litigation, Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder has been blamed for causing Diane Brower’s ovarian cancer, which led to her eventual death. Her granddaughter now seeks reparations, despite the pharmaceutical company’s insistence that the link between perennial talcum powder use and ovarian cancer cannot scientifically be proven. Johnson & Johnson also denies responsibility for warning Brower and other consumers of the risk.

Though J&J’s defense team attempted to invalidate expert testimony from the plaintiff’s defense last week, requesting a directed verdict, Judge Jane Morrison of Fulton County State Court declined to grant J&J freedom from liability. Testimony is expected to go on another week.

JUUL: Federal and State Actions Mount

JUUL’s CEO and co-founder Kevin Burns stepped down last Wednesday, replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, former chief growth officer at Atlaria, a tobacco company and major investor in JUUL. Since occupying the role, Crosthwaite has announced that JUUL Labs will no longer advertise on television and roll back on lobbying efforts while a federal investigation of their company is conducted.

The FDA is conducting its own investigation on the legality of the company’s political ads campaigning for Proposition C, which would overturn San Francisco's ban on e-cigarettes. Ads claim vaping products are safer than cigarettes, but the administration suspects there is a lack of scientific evidence to prove this.

These announcements emerge in the same week that the state of Massachusetts bans e-cigarette sales after Governor Charlie Baker declared a statewide health emergency.

Vaginal Mesh: Statement Strikes and Rejected Motions

Johnson & Johnson’s director of consolidations and external reporting testified last Tuesday that the company had sold California citizens 40,500 vaginal meshes totaling $39 million in profits. Daniel Osborn, Deputy Attorney General for California, objected to these figures as well as to Schneider’s capacity to speak to the data that he had not acquired himself. San Diego Superior Court Judge Eddie Sturgeon struck the mentioned revenues, but kept the number of units sold. This may be an important figure to remember as each device came with a set of instructions for use (IFU) which are alleged by the state to warrant civil penalties for misleading information.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the state Superior Court reduced a settlement from $20 million to $15 million in the case of Margaret Engleman vs. Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon. Engleman’s vaginal mesh, which was intended to cure her urinary incontinence, instead ruined her health. Though presiding judge, Deborah A. Kunselman, rejected Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon’s motions to dismiss the case as out of statute, Kunselman did lower the court’s financial order to adhere to the laws of New Jersey, where Engelman resides.

HIV: Researchers Attempt to Limit Comorbidities and Make Substantial Finds

Researchers at the University of San Diego School of Medicine have come across a potentially revolutionary find in the form of an RNA string which may potentially subdue, or even, eliminate dormant HIV cells. Professor of pediatrics and genetics at UC San Diego School of Medicine, Tariq Rana, PhD, has called the discovery “one of the key switches that the HIV field has been searching decades to find.