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this week in Tarbell

Big Pharma has been the big topic in the news this week, as multiple companies face the music for their roles in the death and addiction resulting from fierce marketing of opioid pain killers. Earlier this week, I wrote about the (relatively) tiny fine and punishment placed on Endo Pharmaceuticals. They may have canceled their “brand name” opioid pain killer and are settling a $10 million payout to the Ohio counties, but that’s pretty small potatoes compared to the $1.42 billion in revenue they earned in the first six months of 2019.


And now it’s even harder to tell how much the company earns from opioid sales, as the drugs are now sold as generics out of their subsidiary Par Pharmaceuticals. So that’s just the small #CostofDoingBusiness for Endo, and they even come out ahead in the stock market as a result.

Click Here to Read My Latest #CostofDoingBusiness Report on!

Plus, here’s a roundup of the payouts and settlements that other Big Pharma companies are facing this year:

Check out @NickSawyerMD on Twitter for a running list. And if I missed any, email me!

Also new this week: Why is it that we walk into hospitals with no clue what we’ll pay for our visits? Any time lawmakers attempt to inject some transparency into hospital visits, the legislation gets derailed or diluted somewhere along the way, Tarbell columnist Trudy Lieberman writes this week.

Click Here To Read The Story

Notable Investigations and Solutions

While we’re training the spotlight on opioid manufacturers and distributors, the New York Times had an interesting feature on how the national opioid crisis has deterred Johnson & Johnson’s “family company” branding (even if stocks are still buoying).

Click Here To Read The Story

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been gutted under the Trump administration, but according to an E&E News investigation, the agency’s sickness is also internal. FEMA wasted more than $3 billion on disaster management, pushing recovery loan costs onto homeowners and businesses impacted by natural disasters.

Click Here To Read The Story

Maplight, one of our favorite news outlet partners, is digging deep into digital deception and presenting solutions on how to avoid it. Check out their new newsletter, “Digital Deception Decoder”, for a weekly brief on the veracity of digital media.

Click Here To Sign Up For Maplight’s Newsletter 

David C. Rich, a lobbyist for Greater New York Hospital Association has ponied up more than $900,000 in the past five years to disperse across dozens of campaigns. But this seems surprising for an employee earning just about $1.7 million last year. The New York Times asks where his contributions come from.

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The Trump administration’s top weapons buyer has just allowed a merger between two monsters in defense contracts, Raytheon and United Technologies, making the second largest defense and aerospace company. 

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The National Rifle Association has certainly used much of its funding for its ongoing campaigns to loosen restrictions on firearm access and promote the industry. But perhaps even NRA donors would be surprised to hear the nonprofit’s funds were also used to settle sexual assault allegations against one of the group’s top brass. 

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Spotlight on Local Reporting

The two companies that control the dialysis market have poured $2.5 million in lobbying against an obscure California bill that would prevent the companies from running the American Kidney Fund, their scam charity.

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Kentucky citizens and health news outlet Stat won a Freedom of Information victory against Purdue Pharma this week: the Supreme Court in Kentucky denied Purdue their ability to keep their secret records on promoting opioids under the covers.

Click Here To Read The Story

San Antonio, Texas is aiming to bring its carbon emissions down to net zero by 2050, but the municipal electric utility is trying very hard, via lobbying and other persuasion, to get their hands into the city climate adaptation plan.

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The San Diego Reader has noticed that California’s Senate President Pro Tem has a bit of an affinity for horse racing, one that’s paid off generously for the turf lobby.

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Danielle Keeton-Olsen is the Engagement Editor at and a freelance journalist based in Southeast Asia.