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Week in CT news: SCOTUS stays Purdue Pharma settlement, affordable birth control, primaries are one month away

A Tufts employee removes letters from signage featuring the Sackler family name at the Tufts building at 145 Harrison Ave. in Boston on Dec. 5, 2019. Tufts University became the first major university to strip the Sackler name from buildings and programs, the family behind OxyContin, an opioid blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths nationwide. The Sackler family gave Tufts $15 million over nearly 40 years.
David L. Ryan
/
Boston Globe/Getty Images
A Tufts employee removes letters from signage featuring the Sackler family name at the Tufts building at 145 Harrison Ave. in Boston on Dec. 5, 2019. Tufts University became the first major university to strip the Sackler name from buildings and programs, the family behind OxyContin, an opioid blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths nationwide. The Sackler family gave Tufts $15 million over nearly 40 years.

The Sackler family may not be shielded from future lawsuits related to the opioid crisis 

The Supreme Court of the United States has temporarily blocked a $6 billion settlement involving Stamford-based opioid maker Purdue Pharma.

Connecticut sued the makers of Oxycontin in 2018, accusing them of fueling opioid addiction by aggressively marketing the drug. Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy the next year. Then in 2021, a federal bankruptcy court in New York approved a $4.3 billion payment to a group of plaintiffs that included the state of Connecticut.

But in order for the settlement to proceed, state attorney general William Tong and eight other attorneys general had to agree to drop their objection to a provision shielding the Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, from future lawsuits.

“The settlement, which Connecticut consented to, forced 40 percent more in support for victims, survivors and states than the amount in the bankruptcy plan. But I believed then and I continue to believe now that non-consensual third-party releases are wrong, and should not be abused in bankruptcy court to enable the worst offenders to cram settlements down the mouths of dissenting victims,” Tong said Thursday in response to the Supreme Court action.

Now, Supreme Court justices will hear arguments on whether the Sacklers should be shielded from future lawsuits.

CBS News reports the Biden administration urged the justicesto review the bankruptcy plan.

As part of a nationwide $6 billion settlement, Connecticut is due roughly $95 million. The money will fund opioid treatment and prevention. It’ll also compensate survivors and victims of the opioid epidemic.

Arguments are scheduled for December.

Lawmakers want the new FDA-approved over-the-counter birth control pill to be affordable

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first-ever over-the-counter birth control pill.

And now, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut wants manufacturers to keep the price low.

Blumenthal says he and other federal lawmakers have written a letter to Perrigo, the manufacturer of Opill, urging the company to “set an affordable retail price to ensure that the birth control is accessible to all who may need it.”

“It ought to be covered by insurance completely, without any out-of-pocket costs,” Blumenthal said at a news conference Thursday at a Planned Parenthood of Southern New England in New Haven. “In the UK, it's offered for $13 a month; that seems perfectly reasonable as a maximum in the United States.”

Lawmakers are pushing to expand access to reproductive care in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

This year Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control.

State senator Heather Somers, a Republican from Groton, is also calling on Perrigo to make Opill affordable.

“Women’s health isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a moral issue,” Somers wrote in a statement emailed to Connecticut Public. “Reproductive health should be universally accessible.”

The FDA says Opill is expected to be more effective than currently available non prescription contraceptive methods in preventing unintended pregnancy.

The company says the pills may hit store shelves in early 2024.

The deadline for local candidates to submit petitions to force primaries in local elections was Wednesday

Derby and West Haven will hold Republican primaries for mayoral candidates on September 12.

Richard Dziekan, the Mayor of Derby, was not endorsed by the Republican party committee in his city. Instead, Republicans endorsed alderman Gino DiGiovanni Jr.

DiGiovanni Jr. has been a supporter of Donald Trump, attending the Stop the Steal rally in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021.

So Dziekan, the mayor of Derby since 2017, had to petition his way onto the GOP’s primary ballot to challenge DiGiovanni Jr.

Dziekan and unaffiliated candidate Sharlene McEvoy already have third party lines for the November election.

Joe DiMartino is the endorsed Democrat in the Derby mayoral race.

West Haven residents will elect a new mayor come November after Nancy Rossi announced earlier this year she wouldn’t run for a fourth term.

The city is embroiled in financial turmoil and a scandal involving COVID-relief dollars.

West Haven’s finances have been monitored by the state’s Municipal Accountability and Review Board since 2018. In 2021, a city employee was arrested for using more than $1 million dollars in coronavirus aid for a gambling scheme.

Democrats have tapped state representative Dorinda Borer to run for mayor.

The city says that Barry Lee Cohen and Steve Mullins will challenge endorsed Republican Paige Weinstein in a September 12 primary.

Frankie & Johnny premieres Fridays at 4:44 p.m. during All Things Considered on Connecticut Public Radio. This story contains information from CBS News, NPR, and WSHU.

Frankie Graziano is the host of 'The Wheelhouse,' focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.
John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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