Brian Mann

It's an hour before showtime and Rob Gann is running late. He has to get his makeup on, climb into his costume, and build a flash-bang firework that will provide the big noisy finish for his act.

"Most clowns have a little bit of pyromaniac in them," Gann chuckles. "End result is you blow something up."

Updated November 23, 2021 at 8:23 PM ET

A federal jury on Tuesday found three of the nation's biggest pharmacy chains, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, liable for helping to fuel the U.S. opioid crisis — a decision that's expected to have legal repercussions as thousands of similar lawsuits move forward in courts across the country.

Editor's note: This story contains quotes and information originally discussed during a Twitter Spaces event hosted by NPR TV critic Eric Deggans and featuring NPR addiction correspondent Brian Mann, Dopesick book author Beth Macy, Dopesick series creator/showrunner Danny Strong and more. Follow us on Twitter, and read more of NPR's addiction coverage here.

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Updated November 17, 2021 at 12:05 PM ET

More than 100,000 people died over a 12-month period from fatal drug overdoses for the first time in U.S. history, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

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Big change is coming to an American household name.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) My daughter uses my shampoo.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Johnson's Baby Shampoo.

Editor's note: This story contains quotes and information originally discussed during a Twitter Spaces event hosted by NPR TV critic Eric Deggans and featuring NPR addiction correspondent Brian Mann, Dopesick author Beth Macy, Dopesick series creator Danny Strong and more. Follow us on Twitter, and read more of NPR's addiction coverage here.

Updated November 10, 2021 at 6:07 PM ET

A federal bankruptcy judge in North Carolina agreed Wednesday to temporarily halt roughly 38,000 lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson that claim the company's baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.

But Judge Craig Whitley only delayed the cases for 60 days. He also ruled that the case should be heard in New Jersey, where J&J is headquartered, and not in North Carolina.

The Supreme Court of Oklahoma has tossed out a landmark 2019 ruling in an opioid case against Johnson & Johnson worth $465 million.

The 5-to-1 decision found the company can't be held liable for Oklahoma's opioid crisis.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Editor's note: This story contains quotes and information originally discussed during a Twitter Spaces event hosted by NPR TV critic Eric Deggans and featuring NPR addiction correspondent Brian Mann, Dopesick book author Beth Macy, Dopesick series creator/showrunner Danny Strong and more.

Updated November 2, 2021 at 8:38 AM ET

A state judge in California ruled late Monday that four drug companies can't be held liable for that state's opioid epidemic. Communities had hoped for tens of billions of dollars in compensation to help ease the addiction crisis.

Attorneys representing four California counties argued the drug companies Allergan, Endo, Johnson & Johnson and Teva used false and misleading marketing to push up the sale of prescription opioids.

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Updated October 28, 2021 at 6:08 PM ET

A misdemeanor criminal complaint of forcible touching has been filed against former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who faces allegations he forcibly touched a female staff member.

This is the only criminal charge against Cuomo since he resigned under pressure in August, facing allegations of sexual harassment involving 11 women.

Updated October 27, 2021 at 5:56 PM ET

The Biden administration is rolling out a new coordinated strategy it hopes will slow the menacing rise in drug overdose deaths.

Many of the core ideas are still viewed as controversial in many parts of the U.S., including efforts to provide active drug users with clean syringes.

"We are willing to go places where our opinions and our tendencies have not allowed us to go [before]," Becerra said in an interview with NPR.

Johnson & Johnson is drawing criticism after using a controversial bankruptcy maneuver to block roughly 38,000 lawsuits linked to claims that its talc baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.

The health products giant used a quirk of Texas state law to spin off a new company called LTL, then dumped all its asbestos-related liabilities — including the avalanche of lawsuits — into the new firm.

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About 46,000 public employees in New York City still are not vaccinated - many of them first responders. And city officials now say they have just 10 days to get the shots.

Here's NPR's Brian Mann.

Updated October 14, 2021 at 8:43 AM ET

In a surprise ruling late Wednesday a federal judge in New York allowed work to continue on implementation of a controversial bankruptcy plan for Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin.

Internal documents cited during the opening session of a landmark opioid trial in Cleveland suggest the nation's biggest pharmacy chains were warned by employees about the dispensing of highly addictive pain pills.

Mark Lanier, lead attorney for two Ohio counties suing CVS, Giant Eagle, Walgreens and Walmart, read the documents into the court record as part of his opening statement.

"Walgreens is not verifying the legitimacy of suspicious orders, which could lead to the fulfilment of an illicit order," said one Walgreens memo cited by Lanier.

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On Monday in a federal courtroom in Cleveland, Ohio, the nation's legal reckoning over the opioid crisis shifts to four name-brand pharmacy chains: CVS, Giant Eagle, Walgreens, and Walmart.

The companies say they did nothing wrong in the way they dispensed highly addictive pain pills. But the jury trial now getting underway could expose them to billion of dollars in liability and huge risk to their reputations.

Critics say they were reckless in the way they dispensed opioid pain pills, ignoring red flags as more and more people became addicted.

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The Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma has reached a $75 million opioid settlement with three of the nation's largest drug distributors, the first deal of its kind with a tribal government in the country.

AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson shipped vast quantities of highly addictive pain pills over the past 20 years, triggering an avalanche of lawsuits.

In a statement, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the opioid crisis had disproportionately affected people in his community.

Updated September 27, 2021 at 3:51 PM ET

In its first public safety alert in six years, the Drug Enforcement Administration is warning about a dramatic increase in fake prescription drugs being sold on the black market containing a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.

Updated September 29, 2021 at 11:18 AM ET

I set out on the kind of leaf-peeping trip you take when you want solitude with your fall color. That means driving miles of dirt roads through New York's Adirondack Mountains to reach Quebec Brook, a winding boreal river in the middle of nowhere.

My canoe is a small, ultralight boat designed for this kind of wilderness paddling. That's good because the river is hard to navigate, winding through alder thickets, taking me into a maze of winding marsh.

When Winnie White Tail convened a new session of inpatient substance use treatment last month for members of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes, she found that roughly half her clients were struggling with methamphetamine addiction.

"It's readily available, it's easy to get," White Tail says. She's a Cheyenne tribal member herself and runs the George Hawkins Memorial Treatment Center in Clinton, Okla.

A division of the Justice Department that serves as a watchdog over the federal bankruptcy system filed an appeal late Wednesday seeking to block the controversial Purdue Pharma bankruptcy plan.

William Harrington, who serves as U.S. trustee for the Justice Department, also filed documents requesting an "expedited stay" to prevent implementation of the settlement.

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