Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson agreed to settle with two Ohio counties hard hit by the opioid epidemic for $20.4 million. The Washington Post reports that “the trial involving Cuyahoga and Summit counties is called a “bellwether” case. It is designed to be a test to determine how other lawsuits against the companies might fare. The pending deals, aside from the proposed Purdue Pharma settlement, would address only the cases in the two Ohio counties. Following that trial, another is scheduled for early next year. That test case will focus on West Virginia, specifically Cabell County and the city of Huntington, which has the highest opioid overdose death rate in the nation.” The company will not admit any liability in this settlement.
The administration issued an executive order on Friday barring immigrants who do not have health insurance and cannot afford to cover potential medical costs from entering the US under almost every kind of visa: "Analysts said the proclamation appears to target family-based migration, the type of “chain migration” that the Trump administration and White House aide Stephen Miller, an immigration hawk, have been unable to persuade Congress to reduce. The White House has pushed for policies that would favor wealthier immigrants with special skills over immigrants from poorer countries, including in Latin America. Trump’s proclamation comes as the administration is also preparing to implement a new “public charge” rule Oct. 15 that seeks to deny green cards and U.S. citizenship to poor immigrants. To obtain an immigration visa, foreigners must prove they will be covered by “approved health insurance,” such as a family or employment-based policy, within 30 days of entering the United States, unless they are affluent enough to cover their “reasonably foreseeable medical costs.”
After campaigning to overturn San Francisco’s bans on e-cigarette sales and flavored tobacco products, Juul announced this week that it will no longer support Proposition C, with Juul’s new CEO, a former Altria executive, announcing that the company intends to “work with regulators, policymakers, and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate.” But it’s not clear whether Juul will pull funding Juul has previously provided to the campaign (including $7 million Juul contributed to the campaign just last week). CBS reports: “Larry Tramutola, who directs the No on Prop C campaign, was skeptical, noting that about $7 million in Juul's campaign donations remain unspent. "This could very well be yet another of a series of lies and exaggerations from Juul and Big Tobacco," he said in a statement. "Until they return the $7 million unspent dollars that is in their political account, until they suspend their mail, their advertising, their paid phone calls and lay off their consultants we do not believe them."
A new report from the California Budget & Policy Center, based on newly released Census data, shows that income inequality increased significantly among Californians, and that millions of Californians struggle to cover basic expenses like housing. While the wealthiest households continue to enjoy substantial increases in income, households in the bottom 20% have seen their average real incomes decrease by 5.3% over the past 12 years. Further, the data, which is based on the official poverty line, undercounts the number of Californians facing economic hardship. “Census figures released earlier this month based on an improved measure – the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which accounts for the high cost of housing in many parts of the state – show that roughly 7.1 million Californians per year, more than 1 in 6 state residents (18.2%), could not adequately support themselves and their families between 2016 and 2018. This rate is much higher than the official poverty rate measured over the same time frame in the same data of 12.5%.”
The Haas Institute released a new report on racial exclusion in housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, showing how residential segregation and other racially biased policies and practices have laid the groundwork for displacement and racial inequities today. “This report focuses specifically on the local: the many tactics of exclusion and dispossession that were deeply localized in practice, driven by local actors such as homeowners’ associations and neighborhood groups, real estate agents and developers operating within the regional housing market, and institutions, such as local governments and public agencies, which collectively shape local policies and markets, thus blurring the lines between public and private action. The constellation of exclusionary tactics discussed in the report―which includes state violence and dispossession, extrajudicial violence, exclusionary zoning, racially restrictive covenants and homeowner association bylaws, racialized public housing policies, urban renewal, racial steering and blockbusting, and municipal fragmentation and white flight―show how local laws, practices, and campaigns that first took hold in the Bay Area later came to inform state politics as well as other localities throughout the country. We document this local history in order to ask: what does this mean for how we move forward as a region? … How can we directly confront the roots of exclusion, provide restitution for historical racial injustices, and transform the power structures that continue to perpetuate them? How can we transform our institutions of local governance, zoning ordinances, housing markets, systems of property rights, connection to land, and relationships to our neighbors in order to fully realize racial equity and belonging?”
The Justice Department’s inspector general found that the Drug Enforcement Administration “authorized large increases in the production of painkillers even as the number of opioid-related deaths in the United States soared… The watchdog office said that the D.E.A. was “slow to respond” to the opioid crisis, adding that more than 300,000 Americans have died of opioid overdoses since 2000. “We found that the rate of opioid overdose deaths in the United States grew, on average, by 8 percent per year from 1999 through 2013 and by 71 percent per year from 2013 through 2017,” the review said. “Yet, from 2003 through 2013 D.E.A. was authorizing manufacturers to produce substantially larger amounts of opioids.””
The Los Angeles Times investigates the Food and Drug Administration’s attempt to ban flavored e-cigarette cartridges—and how the vaping industry intervened to block regulations that might have prevented millions of teens from becoming hooked on nicotine: “Unicorn Vomit. Cotton Candy. Gummy Bear. Skittles. Some teenagers who tried these playful vaping flavors thought they were just inhaling water vapor — not also nicotine, a chemical considered as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Now, as a mysterious vaping-related lung disease has doctors and parents urging the nation’s 3.6 million young users to quit, many are finding that they physically can’t — they’re hooked. It’s exactly the kind of youth addiction crisis the Food and Drug Administration had warned of four years ago, when it tried to ban flavored fluids for e-cigarettes. If the FDA ban had gone through, the kid-friendly vaping liquids would have been pushed off store shelves. Instead, over the course of 46 days, a deluge of more than 100 tobacco industry lobbyists and small business advocates met with White House officials as they weighed whether to include the ban as part of a new tobacco control rule. The end result: Senior Obama administration officials nixed the ban and much of the evidence supporting it, according to documents reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. The officials told The Times that a cost-benefit analysis suggested the economic burden on vape shops appeared to outweigh potential health benefits of the ban. After the rules took effect in 2016, sales for Juul, the most popular e-cigarettes, skyrocketed by more than sixfold, reversing decades of progress on youth smoking.”