The daily business briefing: October 22, 2020

Purdue Pharma agrees to pay $8.3 billion opioid settlement, negotiators say coronavirus relief might be passed after election, and more

The Purdue Pharma hq
(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma to pay $8.3 billion opioid-crisis settlement

Purdue Pharma, maker of the painkiller OxyContin, plans to plead guilty to three felony criminal charges as part of an $8.3 billion settlement over the role the company and its drug played in the opioid epidemic, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. The agreement also resolves civil charges against Purdue related to the opioid crisis, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people. Purdue admitted to lying to the Drug Enforcement Administration about its monitoring of physicians to prevent the diversion of OxyContin to illegal channels. The deal does not eliminate criminal liability of Purdue's owners, the Sackler family. Family members said they behaved "ethically and lawfully." Some state attorneys general criticized the deal by saying it let the Sacklers off too easy.

STAT The Associated Press

2. Negotiators say coronavirus relief might be passed after election

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday they have made more progress toward a deal on a new coronavirus relief package, but suggested it might not be passed until after Election Day. Mnuchin and Pelosi said they were narrowing their differences on a potential $2 trillion stimulus agreement but suggested there might not be a way to get enough lawmakers on board before Nov. 3. "I'm optimistic that there will be a bill. It's a question of, is it in time to pay the November rent, which is my goal, or is it going to be shortly thereafter and retroactive?" Pelosi said on MSNBC. Larry Kudlow, a top White House economic adviser, confirmed that finalizing the terms of a relief package in Congress' lame-duck session "could be a possibility."

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The Wall Street Journal

3. Stock futures fall as concerns about coronavirus relief continue

U.S. stock index futures fell slightly early Thursday as uncertainty about a new coronavirus relief deal continued. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were down by about 0.3 percent several hours before the opening bell. All three of the main U.S. indexes fell on Wednesday, giving back early gains. The Dow dropped by 0.4 percent, while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. The market struggles came despite word from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's spokesman that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were "closer to being able to put pen to paper to write legislation" on a coronavirus relief bill. The announcement by top intelligence officials that Iran and Russia were trying to interfere in the U.S. election added to the headwinds.

CNBC MarketWatch

4. AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine trial volunteer dies in Brazil

A volunteer in a COVID-19 vaccine trail drug-maker AstraZeneca is conducting with the University of Oxford has died in Brazil, the South American nation's National Health Surveillance Agency said Wednesday. The agency said it was formally notified Monday. The cause of death was not released, but Ian Jones, a professor of virology at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, said it probably wasn't vaccine-related. AztraZeneca said in a statement to NBC News that the trial would continue. "We cannot comment on individual cases in an ongoing trial of the Oxford vaccine as we adhere strictly to medical confidentiality and clinical trial regulations, but we can confirm that all required review processes have been followed," the statement said.

NBC News

5. Chipotle returns to sales growth but stock falls

Chipotle Mexican Grill reported Wednesday a return to quarterly sales growth despite the summertime coronavirus surge. Chipotle reported earnings of $3.76 a share after adjusting for such costs as restructuring and restaurant closures, down from $3.47 a share in the same period last year. But revenue returned to growth, totaling $1.6 billion, up from $1.4 billion a year earlier. Same-store sales jumped by 8.3 percent, exceeding analysts' expectations of a 7.3 percent gain, according to FactSet. Online sales growth of 202.5 percent led the way. The company did not provide a forecast for the current quarter, however, citing "ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future impact of COVID-19." Shares fell by 5 percent in after-hours trading following the results, after rising 1 percent in regular trading.


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.