Big Pharma and EU Elections

Grind for May 31st, 2019
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

– Jimmy Dean

Setting A Precedent

The Headline

Landmark opioid trial begins in Oklahoma

The Grind

The first case among thousands of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers begins this week in Oklahoma.

The plaintiff, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, is suing three pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid abuse crisis.

Purdue Pharma settled with the state for $270 million in March and Teva Pharmaceuticals settled for $85 million earlier this week, leaving Johnson & Johnson as the only remaining defendant.

“We have looked at literally millions of documents, taken hundreds of depositions, and we are even more convinced that these companies are the proximate cause for the epidemic in our state and in our country,” said Hunter.

The Details

In 2017, an estimated 47,000 Americans died from opioid overdose. That same year, more than 1.5 million Americans suffered substance use disorders related to prescription painkillers.

Now, roughly 130 Americans die each and every day from opioid abuse.

The issue began in the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies began selling opioid painkillers to healthcare providers. Critics say drug makers overstated the benefits and understated the risks of their products.

Stats from suggest that up to 29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them; of that group, between 4% and 6% switch to heroin.

Oklahoma’s trial will set the stage for similar lawsuits by attorneys in nearly every state. The case begins Tuesday with a judge and no jury.

“This case will set a precedent,” says University of Kentucky law professor Richard Ausness. “If Oklahoma loses – of course they’ll appeal if they lose – but the defendants may have to reconsider their strategy.”

The Results Are In

The Headline

Key takeaways from the European election

The Grind

More than 50% of eligible voters participated this Sunday in the European Union’s parliamentary elections.

Perhaps the most significant change was the end of a decades-long majority held by the center-left/center-right coalition.

A party coalition known as “The Greens” had its best showing ever, jumping from 52 seats in parliament to 69.

Populist parties gained ground, but not as much as expected:

— In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally Party defeated President Emmanuel Macron’s coalition by a margin of less than 1%.

— In Italy, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s party Lega Nord claimed victory with more than 34% of the vote.

— In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party claimed a majority with more than 52% of the vote.

While these gains will not give the far-right the power to reshape the EU, they will certainly lead to some difficult negotiations and uncomfortable alliances in parliament.

The Details

The UK had not planned to take part in the election, but with Brexit stalled was required by law to participate.

Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party landed in fifth place with a mere 8.7% of the vote (its worst showing in more than a century).

Coming in first place within weeks of its formation was the Brexit Party, led by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

The Brexit Party – with its single goal of departing the EU on October 31st – was able to claim 31% of the vote. The primary “remain” party claimed 20%.

Did you know… On average, the life span of an American dollar bill is eighteen months.