Your commercial news round-up: Opioid crisis, EY, JD Sports and creative economy

updated on 22 July 2021

Summer is finally here! After a year of pandemic-induced lockdowns, it’s time to let your hair down and catch some rays! Here is a variety of business news stories that you might have missed while basking in the glorious sun. Whether on vacation or staycation, try to keep abreast of significant commercial issues affecting the business and legal worlds.

  • In pharmaceutical news, four US drug giants have admitted liability for the opioid epidemic and agreed to pay £19 billion. Drug-maker Johnson & Johnson will pay $5 billion over the next five years for allegedly downplaying the risk of opioid addiction in its marketing materials for more than two decades. McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen faced accusations of dismissing “shipments of painkillers being diverted to illegal channels.” The opioid epidemic has claimed more than 300,000 lives in the US since the year 2000 and could claim another half million over the next decade. The money from the settlement will be used on opioid treatments and prevention programmes.
  • In the banking industry, EY is involved in yet another lawsuit over the quality of its audit. Along with two other banks, EY faced accusations of involvement in a “coordinated and deliberate conspiracy” over its auditing work for NMC Health. BR Shetty, the second-largest shareholder in NMC, filed a court document alleging that EY “actively concealed” a six-year fraud from its investors. He also claims that Bank of Baroda and Netherlands-based Credit Europe Bank were involved in stealing $5 billion from the tycoon’s companies. Shetty is seeking $7 billion from lawsuits as a victim of large-scale fraud.
  • Elsewhere in the retail industry, sportswear giant JD Sports announced a multi-million-pound investment in Yorkshire-based Gym King, and has acquired a minority stake in the retailer. The investment will be used to help the company expand internationally, with a sharp focus on the US, Europe and Asia. CEO of Gym King, Jay Parker said: “the clear synergies with JD sports will create a strong platform for accelerated growth.” This isn’t JD’s first investment: just last year it acquired two menswear boutiques – Oi Polloi and Wellgosh. It also acquired two American footwear labels – Shoe Palace and DTLR.
  • Alongside the tourism sector, the cultural and creative sectors are among the most affected by the covid-19 pandemic. CITY A.M reports that covid has cost the UK creative industries £12 billion since last year. Recent data released by Oxford Economics revealed the repeated lockdowns has cost more than 110,000 jobs already. This time last year, the creative industry generated around £104 billion in gross added value, but it has been down by £116 billion this year due to the pandemic. Freelancers and creatives are reliant on venue-based activities, footfall in museums, art galleries, festivals and performing arts, which has been closed due to social distancing measures. But it’s not all negative, as the data also suggested that the creative industries could create 300,00 new jobs by 2025.

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