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J&J settles most Risperdal lawsuits, with $800 million in expenses

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Johnson & Johnson said it has settled most of the lawsuits it faced by thousands of men who claimed its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal caused them to develop excessive breast tissue and disclosed that it recorded $800 million in expenses in connection with the agreement.

J&J said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday that it reached a settlement in principle in September to resolve “substantially all” of the roughly 9,000 cases that the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based drugmaker faced over Risperdal.

The company said it reached the agreement with lawyers handling cases including a lawsuit in state court in Philadelphia by Nicholas Murray, a Maryland resident who a jury awarded an $8 billion punitive damage award in 2019 that a judge later reduced to $6.8 million.

J&J said it accrued $800 million in legal expenses in the third quarter related to the settlement.

It was unclear what other cases in the United States were part of the accord. Many of the lawsuits were also pending in Pennsylvania, and the company also faced cases in California and Missouri.

Lawyers for plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuits generally accused J&J of failing to warn of the risk of a condition called gynecomastia associated with Risperdal, which they said the company marketed for off-label, unapproved uses with children. J&J denied the allegations.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Risperdal in 1993 to treat schizophrenia and bipolar mania in adults, but it was only in 2006 that its use was approved for irritability associated with autism in children.

The company separately agreed in 2013 to pay $2.2 billion to settle U.S. criminal and civil probes into its marketing of Risperdal and two other drugs.

The U.S. Supreme Court in May rejected a bid by Johnson & Johnson to overturn a $70 million jury verdict against the company for its failure to warn about risks associated with off-label uses of Risperdal. The court turned away the J&J’s appeal of a 2019 ruling by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania that upheld the verdict in favor of a Tennessee man who was prescribed the drug at age 4 in 2003.

 

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Will Dunham)

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U.S. stock futures rise following Friday's omicron-sparked selloff – MarketWatch

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U.S. stock futures rose late Sunday, following a steep selloff Friday sparked by fears of the global economic impact of a worrisome new strain of COVID-19.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures
YM00,
+0.70%

gained about 230 points, or 0.7%, as of 9 p.m. Eastern. S&P 500 futures
ES00,
+0.92%

and Nasdaq-100 futures
NQ00,
+1.14%

also showed solid gains.

Crude oil futures also rebounded Sunday from a Friday plunge, with benchmark U.S. crude
CLF22,
+5.24%

and Brent crude
BRNF22,
+4.70%
,
the international benchmark, jumping roughly 4% higher.

On Friday, Wall Street suffered its worst day in more than a year amid growing concerns over the new omicron variant of COVID-19. The World Health Organization’s technical advisory group on Friday declared it a “variant of concern,” and a number of countries imposed flight bans from countries in southern Africa, where the variant was first discovered.

Little is known about omicron, but investors Friday braced for bad news.

Read: U.S. health officials urge caution, but not panic, over omicron variant

In a holiday-shortened session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-2.53%

slumped 905.04 points, or 2.5%, to 34,899.34, with the index logging its worst daily drop since Oct. 28, 2020, according to FactSet data. The S&P 500 
SPX,
-2.27%

 fell 106.84 points, or 2.3%, to 4,594.62, and the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-2.23%

 sank 353.57 points, or 2.2%, to 15,491.66.

“The pandemic and COVID variants remain one of the biggest risks to markets, and are likely to continue to inject volatility over the next year(s),” Keith Lerner, co-chief investment officer and chief market strategist at Truist Advisory Services, wrote in a Friday note. “It’s hard to say at this point how lasting or impactful this latest variant will be for markets.”

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Canada to Tap Maple Syrup Reserves to Combat Supply Crisis – TMZ

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Canadians to get biggest drop in gasoline prices since 2009 over COVID variant fears – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Canadians should experience the fastest drop in gasoline prices in nearly 13 years on Sunday as fears about a virulent new COVID-19 variant are expected to provide a break of 11 cents per litre at the pumps.

Dan McTeague, president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, said the national average price could drop to about $1.32 per litre but begin to rise again midweek.

“(Sunday) represents the single largest decrease at the pumps we’ve seen going back to 2009,” he said in an interview.

Global crude oil prices plunged Friday over fears about a new COVID-19 variant called Omicron that prompted Canada to ban entry for foreign nationals who travelled through southern Africa.

The January crude oil contract fell 13.1 per cent or US$10.24 on Friday and currently stands at US$68.15 per barrel.

The decrease came as U.S. stock markets closed early Friday because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Sunday and Monday are going to be the best days for Canadians to fill up, including British Columbia,” McTeague said

Even residents of flood-ravaged B.C. will save on the province’s high gasoline prices despite facing rationing because severe flooding has shut both the Trans Mountain pipeline and the province’s lone refinery.

Drivers of non-essential vehicles can only purchase up to 30 litres per visit to a gas station in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky area, Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.

East Coast residents won’t reap the immediate benefits of Sunday’s price drop because its regulated regional system averages price movements. That provides price predictability but blunts price discounts.

Despite the upcoming decrease, national gasoline prices have surged nearly 43 per cent in the past year as the reopening of the global economy from pandemic lockdowns prompted a recovery in crude prices.

McTeague suggested Canadians shouldn’t get too comfortable with the energy savings. He said prices are expectd to increase as OPEC and its allies, who are meeting on Monday, will likely refuse to increase production any further. Energy traders realize that Friday’s decrease was overdone and “flies in the face of fundamentals,” he added.

“My sense is that the decreases that we saw were a little exaggerated and overbought, and for that reason I think we might see a little bit more balance come back to the markets and fundamentals by Wednesday,” McTeague said.

“Unless there’s further unsettling news of greater and further lockdowns, I would expect that oil prices are probably going to recover US$3 to US$4 a barrel by Monday or Tuesday, which means by Wednesday or Thursday we could be looking at increases in the order of four or five cents a litre.”

McTeague said some gasoline savings will continue for a couple of weeks, but he foresees crude climbing back to about US$90 a barrel, which would translate into prices in Canada exceeding $1.50 per litre.

Impending carbon tax increases will further boost prices.

A tax of 2.5 cents per litre, including HST, will take effect on April 1, 2022. It will be followed in December by the clear fuel standard that will add another 18.1 cents per litre including HST, said McTeague.

Adding to the inflation pressure is the Canadian dollar which is less valuable than when it was at par the last time crude prices were around US$80. That reduces the purchasing power for all kinds of products, including energy and food.

The Canadian Automobile Association said that as of early Saturday morning, Manitoba had the lowest average pump price of $1.35/L, followed closely by Alberta at $1.377, while Newfoundland and Labrador was the highest at $1.583 with British Columbia at $1.558.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2021.

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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