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Vox Sentences: The opioid trials

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Johnson & Johnson faces Oklahoma in a historic opioid trial; a stabbing attack in Japan leaves more than a dozen children injured.

The first opioid trial begins in Oklahoma

A bottle of opioids. Tom Kelley/Getty Images
  • The country’s first opioid trial began today, and it could set precedent for whether drug companies can be held accountable for the opioid epidemic. [CNN / Meg Wagner and Brian Ries]
  • 23 months ago, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter sued drug companies, including Purdue Pharma, Teva, and Johnson & Johnson, to hold them accountable for fueling the opioid epidemic. He claims their aggressive marketing tactics and misleading medical claims contributed to the opioid epidemic. [Washington Post / Lenny Bernstein]
  • Since then, both Purdue Pharma and Teva have settled with the state for $270 million and $85 million respectively. Johnson & Johnson, however, has refused to back down — making it the first drug company to head to court for an opioid trial. [NYT / Jan Hoffman]
  • It is taking a novel approach to the case by invoking its vague “public nuisance” law, which prosecutes those that harm members of the public. Johnson & Johnson denies these claims. [NPR / Jackie Fortier]
  • The outcome of this case could serve as guidance for about 2,000 other cases against drug companies that have been brought by states, local municipalities, and Native American tribes. The trial is receiving intense public interest, especially because it will be publicly broadcast. [WSJ / Sara Randazzo]
  • The question to be answered: To what degree can a company be held accountable for a drug epidemic? [Politico / Paul Demko]

A stabbing attack in Japan leads to two deaths, multiple injuries

  • In Japan, where violent crimes are rare, a mass stabbing of schoolchildren — most of whom were first-graders — has left parents shocked and concerned. [NHK]
  • The attacker, a 51-year-old man, wielded knives in both hands as he injured 17 people, including 15 elementary school girls and a boy. [Japan Times]
  • The attacks also led to two deaths: 11-year-old Hanako Kuribayashi and Satoshi Oyama, a 39-year-old father who was taking his child to the bus stop. [CNN / Yoko Wakatsuki, Junko Ogura, and Miki Lendon]
  • Many of the students were waiting at their bus station for Caritas elementary school, a nearby private Catholic school, when the attack happened. The attacker charged toward the students waiting in line and boarded the bus to stab children as well. [BBC]
  • The attacker died from self-inflicted wounds to the neck. The police have yet to identify a motive. [Washington Post / Simon Denyer and Akiko Kashiwagi]
  • Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said he was outraged by the incident and promised to take extensive measures to protect schoolchildren’s safety. [AP / Mari Yamaguchi and Jae Hong]
  • It is common for Japanese parents to let their young children commute to school via train or bus alone, which is why the attack comes as such a shock for Japan, a country known for its safety. [NYT / Motoko Rich, Hisako Ueno, and Makiko Inoue]


  • Amid slumping iPhone sales, Apple is courting a niche audience by releasing the first new iPod version in four years. [CNN / Shannon Liao]
  • A female anaconda in a Massachusetts aquarium gave birth to two babies despite never having been exposed to an adult male snake. The rare phenomenon is called parthenogenesis, Greek for “virgin birth.” [USA Today / Joel Shannon]
  • The media giant Netflix has announced it will reconsider its entire investment in Georgia if the state’s restrictive “heartbeat bill,” banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, comes into effect. [CNBC / Megan Graham]
  • Navy pilots report frequent UFO sightings. No one claims they point to extraterrestrial life, but they happen so often that the Navy released new guidance this year for how to report them. [NYT / Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal, and Leslie Kean]
  • Feeling burned out? You can now justify your condition as a medical diagnosis, per the World Health Organization. [The Cut / Katie Heaney]


“My heart is broken with pain when I think of the innocent children and their parents who send their children to our school with love who were victimized by this savage act.” [Caritas elementary school chair Tetsuro Saito on the knife attack against his students]

Listen to this: Hack to the future

Baltimore is under attack. Hackers have hijacked the city’s online services and are demanding $100,000 worth of bitcoin. ProPublica’s Renee Dudley explains how ransomware is threatening cities across the country. [Spotify]

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