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News Wrap: Purdue Pharma pleads guilty to federal charges

In our news wrap Wednesday, pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma is pleading guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and paying kickbacks to doctors amid the national opioid epidemic. The move involves the painkiller OxyContin and comes as part of an $8 billion settlement. Also, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett served on the board of Christian schools barring kids of same-sex parents.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma is pleading guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and paying kickbacks to doctors in the national opioid epidemic.

    It involves the painkiller OxyContin and is part of an $8 billion settlement.

    Federal prosecutor Christina Nolan said today that the case sends a clear message.

  • Christina Nolan:

    People were suffering under opioid addictions that sometimes ended in death. And so many of those addiction stories began with OxyContin.

    And we hope you will — Purdue's guilty plea will send a message that the Department of Justice will not allow big pharma and big tech to engage in illegal conduct that corrupts the doctor-patient relationship.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Some states and congressional Democrats have argued the settlement is not sufficient punishment, but the Justice Department says Purdue pharma's executives and owners, the billionaire Sackler family, could still face criminal liability.

    Pope Francis has become the first pope to endorse same-sex civil unions. In an interview for a documentary film, he says homosexual couples have a right to be a family. Francis had previously endorsed civil unions when he was bishop of Buenos Aires.

    We will take a closer look at this after the news summary.

    It turns out U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett served on the board of Christian schools that barred children of same-sex parents. The Associated Press reports that they also barred openly gay teachers. The news came as Barrett spent the day meeting with Republican senators.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee votes on her nomination tomorrow. Democrats now say they will boycott the vote.

    In Nigeria, chaos gripped Lagos today after soldiers fired into a crowd overnight. It's not clear how many were killed, but the incident fueled a brewing crisis in Africa's most populous nation.

    Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News reports.

  • Jonathan Rugman:

    It was at this toll gate in Lagos where security forces opened fire on protesters last night.

  • Man:

    Come on! Sit down! Sit down! Sit down!

  • Jonathan Rugman:

    The Nigerian army said no soldiers were even there, but eyewitnesses claimed the opposite, though Nigerian media poured scorn on that, claiming dozens were killed.

    The governor appealed to young Nigerians to observe today's curfew, and he countered that nobody had died at all.

  • Babajide Sanwo-Olu:

    We are comforted that we have not recorded any fatality, as against widespread speculation on social media.

  • Jonathan Rugman:

    President Muhammadu Buhari has been in power for over four years now. In a written statement, he called for calm and promised police reform.

    In the face of two weeks of protests, the president has agreed the abolition of a special police unit accused of torture and murder, though that did nothing to quell yesterday's unrest. Witnesses said troublemakers had infiltrated otherwise peaceful protests in Lagos and that a police station was set alight.

    But, in London this afternoon, hundreds from the U.K.'s Nigerian community came out in support of meaningful reform, as well as justice for what the U.N. secretary-general has described as multiple deaths.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That report from Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.

    In the COVID-19 pandemic, a surge in infections prompted Boston's public school system to switch entirely to remote learning effective tomorrow. And Europe reported a record one-week total of 927,000 infections. That's up 25 percent from just one week earlier.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 98 points to close at 28210. The Nasdaq fell 31 points, and the S&P slipped seven.

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