AllAboutLaw Blog: The contagious spread of the opioid crisis, a new legal territory and more...

 In this week’s edition of the AllAboutLaw blog, we look at the implications (or rather lack of) of a recent Johnson & Johnson case on the global opioid market, the first person to be investigated for a crime committed in space, and the pressing need for law firms to remain competent in matters of money laundering.

  • Last updated Aug 28, 2019 11:54:02 AM
  • Tuula Petersen

Despite the Johnson & Johnson ruling, the opioid crisis shows no signs of slowing down 

The opioid crisis is once again making headlines as Johnson & Johnson has been fined $527 million for its role in Oklahoma’s opioid addiction crisis following Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman’s verdict on Monday.  According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in just under 400,000 overdose deaths between 1999 to 2017 in the US.

The judgment condemned Johnson & Johnson for deceptive marketing of highly addictive prescription painkillers, leading to its over-prescription by doctors. The ruling accused the company of downplaying the risks of addiction and training sales representatives to tell doctors the risk of addiction was 2.6% or less. The company denies any wrongdoing and will appeal the verdict.

Such as ruling has not prevented the pharmaceutical giants from selling their drugs. With rising income levels in other parts of the world, companies such as Johnson & Johnson are looking to capitalise on new markets by selling their opioid products to patients burdened by pain outside the US. India has become a prime target for American pharmaceutical companies who are facing government action and a number of lawsuits in their home country. 

The sale of opioids in other countries is facilitated by big pharmaceutical companies such as Purdue Pharma, a key player in America’s opioid epidemic, and Mundipharma, an international network of pharmaceutical companies. Due to successful marketing techniques, big pharmaceutical companies have found ways to legally sell opioids overseas, fueling a global opioid crisis. 


“Evidence that may appear objective and technical doesn’t necessarily equal high evidence value”.

Karoline Normann, who heads the Danish Bar and Law Society’s criminal law committee, in response to Denmark’s plan to review over 10,000 court verdicts because of errors in cellphone tracking data offered as evidence.


Firm news

Hogan Lovells lawyers have filed a petition asking the US Supreme Court to hear a case that was featured in the first series of the podcast “Serial”.

Two market-leading partners, Jason L. Behrens and David C. Miller, have joined the Investment Funds group at Linklaters in New York.

The Diversity Access Scheme launched by the Law Society of England and Wales has offered more than 200 lawyers from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to pursue a career in law.

Clyde & Co ventures into law-tech by partnering with Access Threat, an AI startup that has developed a unique Terrorism Risk Assessor.

Partners at Dentons have voted in favour of combining with a Korean law firm, Lee International.



A new legal territory – the first crime in space?

Although astronauts may no longer physically be on Earth, its laws are still applicable. Anne McClain, a decorated NASA astronaut, is no stranger to this lack of exemption, being the first person investigated for a crime alleged to have taken place in space.

NASA is examining a claim made by McClain’s ex-wife, accusing McCain of accessing her estranged spouse’s bank account from the International Space Station.

The five space agencies involved in the maintenance of the International Space Station—the US, Russia, Japan, Europe and China—have established procedures to handle any legal issues that might arise when in orbit around the Earth. Most notably, any national law applies to people and possessions in space, so a US citizen would be subject to US law.




Are you about to embark on a Graduate Law Degree (GDL)? Or maybe you are looking to apply to a GDL for the following academic year? Whatever your situation, we have plenty of resources available on our website dedicated to the GDL and any related topics.



Half of UK law firms do not understand money laundering typologies

A recent report—On the Frontline: The UK’s Fight Against Money —released by LexisNexis® Risk Solutions shows that half of law firms do not understand the money laundering risks facing them. This lack of understanding, as well as innovative and evolving criminal methodologies, are considered to be barriers in tackling money laundering in the legal industry. Respondents have suggested the ineffectiveness of law firms is due to the number of supervisory bodies responsible for anti-money laundering (AML) matters in addition to a lack of consistency in AML controls. A complete understanding of money laundering and its legal implications is important considering the number of money laundering incidents is increasing. Mike Harris, the director of Financial Crime Compliance and Reputational Risk at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, has stressed how important it is for law firms to acknowledge their crucial role in protecting the UK from financial crime—“[a]part from ensuring obligations are taken seriously, training and education on financial crime risks is essential.”



Recommended Reading

1. “Can someone as notorious in the #MeToo era as Harvey Weinstein get a fair trial in the world’s media capital?” 

2. Book publishers have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Audible in an attempt to prevent a new speech-to-text feature.

3. A tilting balance towards a politicized judiciary and the need to return to an objective application of the rule of law.

4. In relation to two cases involving gay workers, the Trump administration is accused of asking the Supreme Court to legalise anti-gay discrimination in the workplace.

5. The debate over gun law reform continues, as a case is brought before the US Supreme Court.

6. Florida’s lax "Sunshine Laws" have encouraged the emergence of an unusual public figure: "Florida Man".  

7. “Who’s to blame when algorithms discriminate?”—a look at the implications of a new rule published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

8. In the podcast Legal Talk Network, Kimberly Yuracko discusses her research on gender equality and assesses the current climate surrounding anti-discrimination law.

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