Johnson & Johnson on January 14 said the company agreed to pay $44 million to resolve claims that it fueled the opioid epidemic in New Mexico, a state which originally opted against participating in a nationwide settlement resolving thousands of similar cases.

New Mexico agreed to join a proposed nationwide settlement worth up to $21 billion resolving claims that the three largest U.S. drug distributors fueled a deadly opioid epidemic, the state’s attorney general said on December 7.

At least six U.S. states, including Georgia, did not fully sign on to a proposed $26 billion settlement with three drug distributors and Johnson & Johnson – which have been accused of fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic – according to the states’ attorneys general.

Alaska became the first U.S. state to make Covid-19 vaccines available to anyone age 16 years or older, eliminating eligibility requirements for people who work or live in the state.

Walmart Inc. is preparing to offer Covid-19 vaccinations in seven more states, as well as in Chicago and Puerto Rico, expanding beyond the two states where the company’s pharmacists are offering inoculations.

U.S. health authorities will hold an emergency meeting to recommend that a coronavirus vaccine awaiting approval be given first to healthcare professionals and people in long-term care facilities.

The United States recorded the country’s largest weekly rise in Covid-19 deaths since August, increasing 32% from the previous week to average about 1,500 people per day, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county reports.

The United States reported a record increase in coronavirus cases for a fourth consecutive day with at least 131,420 new infections, bringing the country’s total caseload to about 9.91 million, according to a Reuters tally.

The number of new Covid-19 cases in the United States rose two weeks in a row in 27 out of 50 states, with North Carolina and New Mexico both reporting increases above 50% last week, according to a Reuters analysis.

The medical cannabis market in the United States, even with all of its restrictions, continues to be a fertile area not only for dispensaries, but pharma companies developing cannabis-derived drugs; and proponents say further growth can be generated by educating physicians about medical cannabis.