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Vox Sentences: A landmark decision in Oklahoma

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What Oklahoma’s victory against Johnson & Johnson means for the opioid trials; in the latest attacks against Iran’s allies, Israeli drones bombed Lebanon on Monday.

A $572 million blow to Johnson & Johnson

Cristina Arias/Getty Images
  • Oklahoma delivered a stinging blow to the drug manufacturing firm Johnson & Johnson on Monday, a landmark victory for the state that may help decide more than 2,000 lawsuits targeting opioid makers and distributors around the US. [CNN / Jacqueline Howard and Wayne Drash]
  • The company was ordered to pay $572 million for its “false, misleading and dangerous” sales campaign that contributed to the massive opioid crisis, as J&J supplied 60 percent of the opiate ingredients used for drugs like oxycodone. The amount, though short of the $17 billion Oklahoma hoped to secure in the trial, could pay for a year’s worth of epidemic relief services in the state. [NYT / Jan Hoffman]
  • According to Oklahoma’s attorney general, Johnson & Johnson contributed to 6,000 deaths in the state alone since 2000, with the crisis en route to becoming the “deadliest” man-made epidemic. The pharmaceutical firm has already said it will appeal the judge’s decision. [Guardian / Chris McGreal]
  • The victory comes after two other drugmakers, Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals, settled their respective cases earlier this year for $270 million and $85 million, respectively, bringing Oklahoma’s net wins close to $1 billion. [Washington Post / Lenny Bernstein]
  • The surge in lawsuits comes after a string of evidence helped tie the companies’ malicious sales tactics to the opioid epidemic. According to Vox’s German Lopez, manufacturers promoted opioid-based painkillers as “safe and effective, with multiple studies tying the marketing and proliferation of opioids to misuse, addiction, and overdoses.” This also led to other waves of drug overdoses, as the use of heroin and, later, illicit fentanyls grew in response to people losing access to opioids or seeking more potent, cheaper highs. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Lopez further writes that the growing number of opioid cases is not just for states to receive money in damages but also to elicit changes like restricting companies’ opioid marketing, seeking payment for patients’ treatment, and inciting regulation on the federal level. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • The first federal trial on opioids is scheduled for October 21. Its presiding judge, Cleveland-based Dan Polster, oversees most of the ongoing opioid cases, and, according to the Associated Press, is “pushing the parties to settle.” [AP / Geoff Mulvihill]

More drone strikes west of Iran

  • Two Israeli drones bombed a Hezbollah base in Lebanon on Monday in the latest of four attacks seemingly carried out against Iran’s allies since the weekend. [New York Post / Yaron Steinbuch]
  • According to the Jerusalem Post’s Anna Ahronheim, the drone attack is the first “hostile action” carried out by Israel against Lebanon since the 2006 Lebanon War, a 34-day event incited by a Hezbollah cross-border raid. [Jerusalem Post / Anna Ahronheim]
  • Israel’s forces claimed done strikes against Syria, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and Iraq in the past few days. The feud between Israel and Iran seems to have worsened since the US began imposing a series of harsh sanctions on the latter nation as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign, as well as backing out of the 2015 nuclear deal last year. [Newsweek / Tom O’Connor]
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that “Iran has no immunity anywhere” and suggested that Iranian aggression will not be tolerated, since if “someone rises up to kill you, kill him first.” [Twitter / Benjamin Netanyahu]


  • Facebook is reportedly developing a new messaging app for Instagram called Threads, which will make use of the latter’s “close friends” feature. Users will be able to share stats like location and battery life with their friends, in addition to the usual text, photo, and video messages. [The Verge / Casey Newton]
  • An asteroid the size of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, will fly past the Earth on September 14, traveling at 14,361 miles per hour. [Yahoo Entertainment / Lynne Versluys]
  • Viola Davis is set to star as Michelle Obama in a one-hour White House drama series that’s being developed for Showtime. Along with Obama, the first season will focus on former first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Ford. [Deadline / Nellie Andreeva, Denise Petski]
  • Is meatless chicken becoming mainstream? In partnership with the California startup Beyond Meat, the popular fried chicken chain KFC is dishing out plant-based products at a single location in Atlanta starting Tuesday, in hopes of competing in the alternative-meats market. According to KFC’s president, the new product is “so delicious, our customers will find it difficult to tell that it’s plant-based.” [NPR / Scott Neuman]


“You voting for this video means that you want a world where we’re all treated equally. ... Thank you to everyone who signed that petition because it now has half a million signatures, which is five times the amount it would need to warrant a response from the White House.” [Taylor Swift called out the administration over its inaction on her Equality Act petition after winning the MTV Video Music Awards’ top prize Monday / Elle]

Watch this: The opioid crisis is making grandparents parents again

Grandparents are struggling to raise grandchildren on their own. [YouTube / Mac Schneider]

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