Brian Mann

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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.

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 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 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.

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.

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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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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.

Updated September 1, 2021 at 7:33 PM ET

Members of the Sackler family who are at the center of the nation's deadly opioid crisis have won sweeping immunity from opioid lawsuits linked to their privately owned company Purdue Pharma and its OxyContin medication.

Federal Judge Robert Drain approved a bankruptcy settlement on Wednesday that grants the Sacklers "global peace" from any liability for the opioid epidemic.

Updated August 31, 2021 at 4:14 PM ET

Purdue Pharma launched a behind-the-scenes effort in recent days aimed at discouraging the Justice Department from appealing a pending multibillion-dollar bankruptcy settlement for the OxyContin-maker.

NPR acquired an early draft of a letter distributed by the drug company to groups supportive of the bankruptcy deal.

A federal bankruptcy judge says he'll rule Friday on the fate of Purdue Pharma and its owners, members of the Sackler family, who are at the center of a national reckoning over the deadly opioid epidemic.

Judge Robert Drain signaled he is likely to approve the reorganization plan for the makers of OxyContin.

But he also demanded last-minute changes limiting legal immunities granted under the deal to the Sacklers and their associates.

Buried at the bottom of reams of legal documents filed as part of the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy case is a single-spaced list that goes on for more than a dozen pages.

It details hundreds of individuals, companies, trusts and other organizations, including financial advisers, public relations firms, law firms, lobbyists, drugmakers and laboratories.

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Bankruptcy proceedings against Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, have often been opaque and bureaucratic, the outcome of the multi-billion dollar settlement shaped by backroom deal-making.

But woven into the court record are dozens of personal letters written by people who say their families were ravaged by addiction that began with the company's powerful pain pills.

The outcome of a landmark federal opioid trial in West Virginia that reached closing arguments this week rests on two legally thorny questions.

Was it "unreasonable" for three of America's biggest corporations — the drug wholesalers AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — to ship roughly 81 million highly addictive opioid pills to pharmacies in one small Rust Belt city on the Ohio River?

Updated July 21, 2021 at 3:55 PM ET

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general announced on Wednesday a $26 billion national settlement with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three companies that distributed opioid painkillers even as addiction and overdose deaths skyrocketed.

"The opioid epidemic has torn families apart and killed thousands of North Carolinians," said North Carolina state Attorney General Josh Stein, one of the lead negotiators.

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