What We're Reading: US Coronavirus Deaths Rise to 6; Supreme Court to Hear Abortion Case; Sandoz Settles Price-Fixing Charge

March 3, 2020

Four more US deaths related to the coronavirus were reported in Washington state yesterday; the 2 justices appointed by President Trump to the Supreme Court will hear their first case on abortion tomorrow; Sandoz agreed to pay $195 million in a generic drug price-fixing investigation.

US Coronavirus Death Toll Rises to 6

The coronavirus death toll in the United States rose from 2 to 6 people yesterday, with additional patients being treated in at least 15 states, according to The Washington Post. This past weekend, 2 deaths from the coronavirus were associated with a nursing facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, Washington, which has been a potential source of infection of at least 50 other people reporting the virus’ symptoms. King County, where the nursing facility is located, has declared a state of emergency. All 6 US deaths have occurred in Washington state.

New Supreme Court Inductees to Hear First Abortion Case

This Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear its first major abortion case since 2 Trump nominees joined the bench, potentially showing how reproductive rights will come to be judged by a conservative majority in the future, according to The Wall Street Journal. The case will exhibit the Supreme Court’s approach to precedent, as the current case largely mirrors an issue the court decided on 2016, when by a 5-3 vote it struck down a Texas law requiring that abortion providers obtain admitting priveleges at a nearby hospital. “There’s a lot on the line in this case, and more than most people realize,” stressed Mary Ziegler, JD, law professor at Florida State University.

Sandoz to Pay $195 Million in Price-Fixing Settlement

The Sandoz unit of Novartis agreed to pay $195 million to resolve criminal charges of conspiring with other manufacturers to fix prices on generic drugs, making it the third company to be charged as part of the long-running investigation, according to STAT. Sandoz admitted to working with several rivals to set prices for several medications between 2013 and 2015, including a blood pressure pill, an eczema ointment, and a treatment for cystic fibrosis. The company admitted that sales affected by its activities exceeded $500 million.