Brian Mann

It's an hour before showtime and Rob Gann is running late. He has to get his makeup on, climb into his costume, and build a flash-bang firework that will provide the big noisy finish for his act.

"Most clowns have a little bit of pyromaniac in them," Gann chuckles. "End result is you blow something up."

Updated November 23, 2021 at 8:23 PM ET

A federal jury on Tuesday found three of the nation's biggest pharmacy chains, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, liable for helping to fuel the U.S. opioid crisis — a decision that's expected to have legal repercussions as thousands of similar lawsuits move forward in courts across the country.

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Updated November 17, 2021 at 12:05 PM ET

More than 100,000 people died over a 12-month period from fatal drug overdoses for the first time in U.S. history, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

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Big change is coming to an American household name.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) My daughter uses my shampoo.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Johnson's Baby Shampoo.

Updated November 10, 2021 at 6:07 PM ET

A federal bankruptcy judge in North Carolina agreed Wednesday to temporarily halt roughly 38,000 lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson that claim the company's baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.

But Judge Craig Whitley only delayed the cases for 60 days. He also ruled that the case should be heard in New Jersey, where J&J is headquartered, and not in North Carolina.

The Supreme Court of Oklahoma has tossed out a landmark 2019 ruling in an opioid case against Johnson & Johnson worth $465 million.

The 5-to-1 decision found the company can't be held liable for Oklahoma's opioid crisis.

Updated October 28, 2021 at 6:08 PM ET

A misdemeanor criminal complaint of forcible touching has been filed against former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who faces allegations he forcibly touched a female staff member.

This is the only criminal charge against Cuomo since he resigned under pressure in August, facing allegations of sexual harassment involving 11 women.

Johnson & Johnson is drawing criticism after using a controversial bankruptcy maneuver to block roughly 38,000 lawsuits linked to claims that its talc baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.

The health products giant used a quirk of Texas state law to spin off a new company called LTL, then dumped all its asbestos-related liabilities — including the avalanche of lawsuits — into the new firm.

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About 46,000 public employees in New York City still are not vaccinated - many of them first responders. And city officials now say they have just 10 days to get the shots.

Here's NPR's Brian Mann.

Internal documents cited during the opening session of a landmark opioid trial in Cleveland suggest the nation's biggest pharmacy chains were warned by employees about the dispensing of highly addictive pain pills.

Mark Lanier, lead attorney for two Ohio counties suing CVS, Giant Eagle, Walgreens and Walmart, read the documents into the court record as part of his opening statement.

"Walgreens is not verifying the legitimacy of suspicious orders, which could lead to the fulfilment of an illicit order," said one Walgreens memo cited by Lanier.

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Updated September 29, 2021 at 11:18 AM ET

I set out on the kind of leaf-peeping trip you take when you want solitude with your fall color. That means driving miles of dirt roads through New York's Adirondack Mountains to reach Quebec Brook, a winding boreal river in the middle of nowhere.

My canoe is a small, ultralight boat designed for this kind of wilderness paddling. That's good because the river is hard to navigate, winding through alder thickets, taking me into a maze of winding marsh.

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Bankruptcy proceedings against Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, have often been opaque and bureaucratic, the outcome of the multi-billion dollar settlement shaped by backroom deal-making.

But woven into the court record are dozens of personal letters written by people who say their families were ravaged by addiction that began with the company's powerful pain pills.

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Updated July 21, 2021 at 3:55 PM ET

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general announced on Wednesday a $26 billion national settlement with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three companies that distributed opioid painkillers even as addiction and overdose deaths skyrocketed.

"The opioid epidemic has torn families apart and killed thousands of North Carolinians," said North Carolina state Attorney General Josh Stein, one of the lead negotiators.

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This week marks the 50th anniversary of the war on drugs. And today, we'll visit two communities that found themselves on the frontlines. Huntington, W.V., and Brownsville, N.Y., were hit hard by drug addiction. They're also places where people say drug war policies left deep scars. NPR addiction correspondent Brian Mann reports.

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After more than a year of high-stakes negotiations with billions of dollars on the line, a bankruptcy plan for Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, cleared a major hurdle late Wednesday.

Federal Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, N.Y., moved the controversial deal forward despite objections from dozens of state attorneys general, setting the stage for a final vote by the company's creditors expected this summer.

The drugmaker filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2019 facing an avalanche of lawsuits tied to its aggressive opioid sales practices.

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Updated May 3, 2021 at 9:51 PM ET

A senior Drug Enforcement Administration official told NPR efforts to target drug cartels operating inside Mexico have unraveled because of a breakdown in cooperation between law enforcement agencies and militaries in the two countries.

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