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What We're Reading: Global Health Emergency Declared; J&J Pays in Pelvic Mesh Suit; Ban on Fentanyl Look-alikes


The World Health Organization issued a global health emergency over coronavirus; a judge orders Johnson & Johnson to pay hundreds of millions in a pelvic mesh suit; the House of Representatives passes a ban on fentanyl look-alikes.

WHO Declares Coronavirus a Global Health Emergency

The World Health Organization's (WHO’s) announcement comes as more than 9800 cases of the virus have been confirmed around the globe and more than 200 deaths, The New York Times reports. This is the sixth time WHO has issued the declaration, as the organization reserves the designation for “extraordinary events” that pose an international threat, ABC News reports. Previous issues by the organization included the Ebola and Zika outbreaks. Cases of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the United States, Germany, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

Judge Orders Johnson & Johnson to Pay $344 Million in Pelvic Mesh Suit

A California judge ruled that Johnson & Johnson should pay $344 million in damages for deceptively marketing transvaginal pelvic mesh implants to tens of thousands of women in the state, The New York Times reports. Arguing they have complied with federal regulations, the company said it intends to appeal the ruling, which was framed as a civic penalty. Years of personal injury litigation filed by women who used the products to treat organ prolapse have plagued the company. Billions of dollars in payouts have already been issued, and last year the FDA stopped the sale of pelvic mesh to treat organ prolapse.

House of Representatives Attempts to Extend Ban on Fentanyl Look-alikes

The House of Representatives passed a bill to temporarily extend the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) class-wide ban on all variants of fentanyl, Reuters reports. The bill is identical to a version previously approved in the Senate earlier in January and is now poised to reach President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. The Justice Department previously lobbied to make the class-wide ban permanent, meaning that all fentanyl analogues would be listed in the same legal category as heroin and cocaine, according to the article. The DEA’s temporary powers on fentanyl analogues expire on February 6.

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