Nassau County Sues Drugmakers Over Opioid Epidemic

Nassau County on Long Island  filed a lawsuit Monday against several pharmaceutical companies, alleging their prescription painkillers helped fuel the opioid epidemic that costs the county millions of dollars annually to combat, reports the Wall Street Journal. The complaint, filed in Nassau County Supreme Court, targets several companies including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Purdue Pharma LP and Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. The defendants also include drug distributors and doctors.

Drug industry launches TV ads lambasting Cuomo’s pricing plan

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has begun running television ads in New York criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed new state controls over drug prices, reports the Wall Street Journal.  Airing in several upstate counties, the ads describe Cuomo’s proposal and similar legislation put forth by the New York State Assembly’s Democratic majority as a tax from “New York City politicians” that would raise out-of-pocket costs and weaken health care quality. “Tell your legislators to reject the tax on prescription drugs,” a narrator states in the ads. The ads are said to be partly intended to pressure Republicans, who run the state Senate, to keep the measure out of the budget. Cuomo’s office disputed that his plan would increase out-of-pocket costs or weaken the quality of care. His plan seeks to cap drug prices through a series of state measures. He proposed creating a price ceiling for drugs that are reimbursed under Medicaid, imposing a surcharge on companies that exceed state price recommendations, and tightening regulations on intermediary brokers who negotiate drug prices for insurance plans

With Moderate Drinking Under Fire, Alcohol Companies Go on Offensive

At a brewers’ conference this spring, an alcohol lobbyist fired a warning shot in what has become a multimillion-dollar global battle, reports The Wall Street Journal. Public-health officials “want to tell you that alcohol causes cancer,” Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute, told the crowd. The industry, she said, was in danger of losing its “health halo.” Continue reading With Moderate Drinking Under Fire, Alcohol Companies Go on Offensive

Valeant’s Michael Pearson Admits Aggressive Drug-Price Increases Were a Mistake

The Wall Street Journal reports that Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. was too aggressive in dramatically raising the prices of some of its drugs, the company’s outgoing chief executive told a Senate committee Wednesday, while its newest board member promised swift changes. Michael Pearson, who oversaw the rise and fall of Valeant, told the committee that Valeant’s strategy of buying and increasing prices on many drugs was a mistake. The testimony, under sharp questioning, highlighted Valeant’s stark fall from Wall Street darling to Washington punching bag, and showed how much it has at stake. Its stock is ​down more than 85% from its high last August. Drug-price increases have overshadowed the company’s broader work, and “we therefore need to work to regain the confidence of Congress, the public, doctors and patients,” Mr. Pearson told the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Judge Criticizes Cigarette Makers, Adopts New Warning Statements

The Wall Street Journal reports that the federal judge presiding over government litigation against tobacco companies in a Monday opinion blasted cigarette makers for continuing to fight her court order requiring them to warn the public about the dangers of smoking. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, based in Washington, adopted revised language Monday for the product warnings and rejected as “ridiculous” the latest legal arguments being made by the tobacco companies. She said the defendants were trying to further delay the resolution of a case that began in 1999.

Concerns Over Valeant Spread to Other Drug Makers

As questions mount about the viability of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.’s business model, writes the Wall Street Journal, concerns are spreading to other drug makers seen as following a similar playbook. Like Valeant, these firms are part of a new breed of pharmaceutical company that has limited costly investment in research and development and instead sought sales growth through debt-fueled acquisitions—often of older drugs for which they raise prices sharply.

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn Resigns Over Emissions Scandal

The Wall Street Journal reports that Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn resigned under pressure after the company admitted it cheated on U.S. emissions tests sparked massive losses of its market value and left it facing prosecution and potentially billions in fines. Winterkorn said he accepted responsibility for the irregularities but wasn’t aware of any wrongdoing on his part.

Car-Safety Chief: Decision Near on Reopening Jeep Probe

The Wall Street Journal reports that federal regulators will decide within the next two weeks whether to reopen a probe into older Jeep models involved in fiery rear-end crashes and be “as aggressive as possible” when weighing measures to address the vehicles, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.