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A Judge Orders Johnson & Johnson To Pay $572 Million For Its Role In The OK. Opioid Crisis; The Farmer`s Almanac Predicts This Winter The U.S. Will Take A Ride On The "Polar Coaster"

Aired August 28, 2019 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 HOST: Should American companies that manufacture certain drugs be held responsible for overdose deaths from those drugs? That`s the

first subject we`re exploring today. I`m Carl Azuz.

A district county judge in Oklahoma has ordered Johnson & Johnson, a pharmaceutical company to pay $572 million for its role in Oklahoma`s

opioid crisis. This was the first state trial that tried to hold a pharmaceutical company responsible.

The crisis itself, has been going on for decades. In 2017 President Trump declared America`s opioid crisis a public health emergency. The U.S.

Centers for Disease Control says between 1999 and 2017, more than 700,000 died from drug overdoses and that most of those deaths, 68 percent,

involved opioids.

These are a class of drugs that include the illegal substance, heroine but also pain killers that are legally prescribed like Hydrocodone, Morphine,

and Fentanyl. Johnson & Johnson makes everything from medical equipment to skin care products to baby shampoo.

It also owns a smaller company that manufactures legal opioids. That`s why Oklahoma sued it. Oklahoma says Johnson & Johnson created the opioid

crisis there that killed more than 6,000 people statewide, destroyed families, and hurt communities.

How could that happen if opioids are legally prescribed by doctors and then consumed by patients. In his decision against Johnson & Johnson, the judge

wrote that the company actively promoted opioids. Suggested that Americans in pain needed more pain killers and implied that there`s a low risk these

drugs would be abused and a low danger in prescribing them.

Johnson & Johnson says it recognizes that he opioid crisis is a complex health issue but that it followed state laws, marketed its drugs

responsibly and that Oklahoma failed to prove that a Johnson & Johnson company caused any harm.

It`s planning to appeal the decision. The reason this case is getting so much attention nationwide is because it could be used as an example in

other lawsuits by other states that are suing opioid makers.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a big win for the state of Oklahoma and a first of its kind victory. But the battle isn`t over yet.

Even though a judge has ruled in favor of the state saying that Johnson & Johnson has fueled the opioid crisis here in Oklahoma, the pharmaceutical

company is vowing to fight back.

They are already planning an appeal. They say there are a number of grounds on which they can appeal. They are defending their prescription

drugs, saying they are necessary for the treatment and management of pain. They say they`ve abided by state and federal laws and they say they`re

being turned into a scapegoat for a larger social complex problem.

But a judge did order them to pay some $572 million. Money that will go toward treatment and prevention of addiction right here in Oklahoma. Of

course the payment won`t be made until that appeals process is allowed to happen.

But this could have even bigger implications than what`s happening right here in Oklahoma. This could be a play book to be used by other states

also going after pharmaceutical companies for driving the opioid crisis.

And it could have an impact on a federal trial set to start in October. In that case there are a couple of thousand plaintiffs all alleging that

pharmaceutical companies should be held responsible for their role in a crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans in a two decade



AZUZ: 10 second trivia. Which of these events occurs on December 21st? First U.S. primary, start of winter, start of Hanukah, or daylight saving

time ends? The winter solstice, aka, the first official day of winter is on December 21st this year.

According to the Farmer`s Almanac`s prediction for this winter, the U.S. is getting ready to take a ride on the polar coaster. Sadly I didn`t write

that, they did. And the reason they did is because it`s supposed to be cold. What the Almanac calls freezing, frigid, and frosty at least for

most of America.

East of the Rocky Mountains, the group says the country will see crazy swings in temperature and plenty of snow in the areas that got it last

year. Negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit is possible in the plain states.

The south is expected to be chilly with average or above average precipitation. But as far as the western third of the country goes, the

Farmer`s Almanac predicts business as usual. Cool temperatures with normal amounts of rain and snowfall for 2020. This particular Almanac has been

around since 1818.

Its predictions are based on a secret formula that factors in everything from sun spots to the positions of the planets to the moons effects on

tides. And it calls its long rang predictions quote, amazingly accurate.

Cat rescue. Sounds a little like a cable network show. It`s a way of life for Paul Santell. He spends at least 30 hours a week feeding, trapping,

and taking cats to get neutered. The U.S. Humane Society estimates that 80 percent of the kittens in America are born to stray or feral cats. Paul`s

work to manage them has made him a CNN hero.


PAUL SANTELL: We`re going to go feed my three colonies. It`s about 25 cats total. Give them some good food like I do every night. Hey guys. I

started doing this because it was a small I was feeding. I wanted to do something for this particular group of outside cats.

Look at the cat. Saturday nights is like clockwork with these guys. Now I`ve probably fixed and returned at least 1,000 feral cats in about four

and a half years. My name is Paul Santell and I go by Paul, The Cat Guy. I love to rescue.

My main focus is trap, neuter, return; TNR and rescue and grabbing cats off the streets, saving lives. That`s one. With TNR this is the last

generation that has to suffer outside. Got a two for one kitten special. It was clear both of them went in (ph).

You have to put some thought into it. He looked and he ran. Oh boy. I spend a lot of time outside waiting for these cats to go in the traps.

There we go. We got it. This is the mom of the kittens, of the newborns.

This is a big litter. Mother of six and the days not over yet. Lot of times you think you`re done. You pack up the car, you`re about to pull

out, another cat comes out. Today I rescued 13 cats off the street. That saves thousands in the long run.

It`s the late new crew on here. I`m big on Instagram with talking to people. So I`m at this industrial lot. We got four adults today and two

kittens. And there`s more cats at this lot. I just like to show people because I`m so excited about the thrill of doing a trapping.

It`s addicted. So hopefully we get some more cats here today. I`ll talk to you guys later, all right. There`s a process when you get a cat off the

street and you don`t know what that cat has. It could have fleas, it could have parasites. They need a good look over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many do you have?

SANTELL: I have 11. Three carriers and the rest cages and traps. And once you get them up to a certain physical standard I take them usually to

ASPCA to get them spaded (ph), vaccines. It`s just better for their overall health.

And then after recovering for a few days you return them back to their location because that`s the environment that they know. The other one went

left and right. When a cat is truly friendly that I trapped, I never put them back outside and it goes to a foster home, then they (ph) put them up

for adoption.

Hello baby. Lucy (ph) was found up in the Bronx. She looked six. She was breathing bad and she just blossomed into this funny rolling around cat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s OK, see. Ready to have some food. Knowing where Lucy (ph) comes from and what she`s been through, I feel an extra

responsibility to make sure she is happy and health and feels safe. I`m so grateful that Paul found Lucy (ph). I just feel like it was fate.

SANTELL: Come on, come on. A lot of times people ask me do you love cats. I like them. What I like to do more than anything is to save lives.

Everybody has certain events in their live that make them change on their outlook of life and it just happened to be cats. So yes, I love them but

that`s not really why I got into it. You want to save lives. It`s the greatest feeling in the world.


AZUZ: Noah Tingle (ph) is getting ready to graduate high school, so he`s making the most of his time trying to embarrass his little brother.

Whenever the bus drops off Max (ph) after school, Noah (ph) is there in costume.

Firefighter, football player, Santa Claus, Indiana Jones, a sloth. What`s become known online as the bus bother is just part of a big brother`s way

of making some fun memories before heading off to college next year. It`s like sibling rivalry.

What better way to show to slotherly (ph) love when you`re a costumer with an Indiana Jonesing to make a bus drop off simply Santastic, unless (ph)

you`ve got to gear up for a year round Hallowin. I`m Carl Azuz and the bus stops here on CNN.