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Sen. Joe Manchin backs suit by addicts who say docs and Big Pharma conspired to hook them on opioids

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A West Virginia senator whose daughter is embroiled in the EpiPen price-gouging scandal backs a lawsuit filed by dozens of former painkiller addicts and their families against doctors and drug makers.

The lawsuit, which is expected to go to trial later this year, accuses doctors, pharmacies and distributors of conspiring to deliberately get them addicted to opioid-based prescription pills, reported The Guardian.

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The defendants argued that the former addicts should not be allowed to sue because their own criminal actions caused them to become physically dependent on the prescribed medications — but the state supreme court rejected that claim and allowed the case to proceed.

Their argument is backed by pharmaceutical manufacturers, who stand to lose millions of dollars if the lawsuit succeeds.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) backs the former addicts and their families, comparing the pharmaceutical companies to cigarette manufacturers.

“That’s the same argument that the tobacco industry used,” Manchin said. “They can’t go down that path. It’s an epidemic because we have a business model for it. Follow the money. Look at the amount of pills they shipped into certain parts of our state. It was a business model.”

Manchin has been dragged into the widening scandal over the increasing cost of the life-saving EpiPen allergy drug involving his daughter, Heather Bresch, who is CEO of the pharmaceutical manufacturer Mylan.

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Bresch enjoyed a 671 percent pay raise after acquiring EpiPens and raising the cost by more than 400 percent — then dumping more than 100,000 shares of Mylan stock after analysts warned she and the company faced a potential public relations nightmare.

Mylan shares dropped from $49 on Aug. 18 to $42.91 on Aug. 26, after the EpiPen controversy erupted.

West Virginia has been hit particularly hard by prescription drug addiction, and the related heroin epidemic.

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Six drug wholesalers agreed this year to a $6.7 million settlement with the state after they were accused of distributing millions of prescription opioids, although McKesson Corp. and other drugmakers are continuing to fight the accusations.

The companies argue that West Virginia’s pharmacy board, which licenses drug wholesalers, would have taken action if they were at fault — but Manchin disagreed.

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“Look at the amount of pills they shipped into certain parts of our state and the pill mills that sprouted up and everyone trying to hide behind thinking it was legal,” Manchin said. “It was awful, absolutely awful. I believe it was business-driven, it was a business model. Those who have done extremely well on that and been rewarded very highly for that have looked at it as a legal business plan like any other business plan.”

Wilbert Hatcher is one of 29 former addicts or their relatives who have sued “a veritable rogue’s gallery of pill-pushing doctors and pharmacies” who he claims knowingly and intentionally got him addicted to pain pills and then refused to help him get clean.

“It was a conspiracy,” said attorney Jim Cagle, who represents Hatcher and the others. “Doctors and pharmacies were keeping them hooked. They were feeding the addiction.”

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Some of the physicians and pharmacists named in the suit have been jailed or lost their medical licenses.

“It’s a circle — you go to the doctor and they bill you,” said Hatcher, who has been clean for about three years but lost a decade to drug addiction. “The pharmacy, they’re a part of it because they were giving out a whole bunch of pills. It’s business. This is spit town. How many pills were they selling? Enough for a major city. This is ridiculous.”


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Trump ridiculed for his late-night ‘OPEN THE SCHOOLS’ rant: ‘Eat your Big Mac and shut up’

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President Donald Trump demanded local school boards reopen schools during a late night tweet sent after 11 p.m. on Monday.

"OPEN THE SCHOOLS!!!" Trump demanded, in all capital letters with three exclamation marks.

The president was harshly criticized for his tweet, here's some of what people were saying:

Dear Stupid,

You can't even get your own son's school to open.

They have refused.

The school where your son Barron is being educated refuses to open because it's not safe.

Now sit there, eat your Big Mac, and shut up.

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Florida Democrats ask their own candidate to withdraw his candidacy after cocaine arrest: report

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Democrats in Florida are asking their own candidate to end his campaign for county commission after an arrest for DUI and cocaine.

"A Collier County commission candidate's arrest in East Naples this past weekend has prompted calls from his party to drop out of the race," the Naples Daily News reported Monday. "John Jenkins, 55, was booked into the Naples Jail Center Sunday morning and faces a felony charge of possession of cocaine, according to a Collier County Sheriff's Office arrest report. He was released later that day on $5,000 bond."

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Harvard researchers want less accurate tests for COVID-19

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The aphorism "perfect is the enemy of good enough" has been played out to tragic effect in the US's inadequate testing for the coronavirus, according to researchers calling for quick tests that cost only about a dollar each, and which may not be as accurate but can be carried out several times a week by the whole population.

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, has for weeks been pushing for what he calls "crappy" tests.

His idea is to move away from the current high-precision molecular tests, known as PCR tests, which are still scarce in large swathes of the country and which people often have to wait hours to get done, and then have to wait days -- or up to a week -- for the results.

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