DOJ Stepping Up Prosecutions Of Medical Providers Who Abuse Prescribing Authority

NPR interview, 11 December 2017
Host: Robert Siegel
“It’s believed that 80 percent of people addicted to heroin today started with prescription painkillers. The over-prescription of opioids in the U.S. has been well documented. NPR’s Robert Siegel speaks with U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about how the Department of Justice is ramping up prosecutions of medical providers who abuse their prescribing authority when it comes to opioids.”
Find transcript here.

US neurologist escapes jail for alleged serial sexual assaults but faces more accusers

BMJ 2017; 359: j5474
Author: Owen Dyer
“A neurologist who used his specialized knowledge of rare diseases to trap female patients into abusive doctor-patient relationships has escaped jail in a Pennsylvania court but will never practice again. He also faces live police investigations in two other US states where he previously worked.”
Find article here.

F.D.A. Speeds Review of Gene Therapies, Vowing to Target Rogue Clinics

NYT, 17 November 2017
Authors: Sheila Kaplan, Denise Grady
“The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued new guidelines to speed the introduction of treatments involving human cells and tissues, including gene therapy. But the agency also said it would crack down on rogue clinics offering dangerous or unproven versions of those treatments.”
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Emergency Legal Authority and the Opioid Crisis

NEJM Perspective, 15 November 2017
Authors: Lainie Rutkow, Jon S. Vernick
“Recently, six states have taken the unusual step of using their legal authority to declare their opioid-overdose situation an emergency. When a government issues an emergency declaration, it can temporarily act to mitigate the emergency using powers and resources that might not otherwise be available to it. Typically, emergency declarations pertain to natural disasters or infectious disease outbreaks. The severity of the opioid-overdose crisis has led to some of the first emergency declarations for a noncommunicable health condition, though their impact remains unclear.”
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Investor group warns U.S. farm antibiotic policy lagging

Reuters, 15 November 2017
Author: Lisa Baertlein
“The United States is falling behind Europe in the fight to curb the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in meat production and experts are warning of the possibility of dangerous drug-resistant “superbug” infections as a result, according to a new report on Tuesday. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the farm sector consumes around 80 percent of all medically important antibiotics in some countries.”
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U.S. top court to hear fight over California pregnancy center law

Reuters, 14 November 2017
Author: Larence Hurley
“The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether a California law requiring private facilities that counsel pregnant women against abortion to post signs telling clients how to get state-funded abortions and contraceptives violates free speech rights.”
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Mexico baby death trial reveals growing persecution of women who miscarry

The Guardian, 8 November 2017
Author: David Agren
“McPherson is currently serving a 16-year sentence after she was convicted of homicide for the death of her baby in what she says was a miscarriage. Her case gained national notoriety when court videos surfaced in which the prosecutor described McPherson’s alleged actions as something “not even a dog would do”.”
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Litigation Provides Clues to Ongoing Challenges in Implementing Insurance Parity

Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 2017, 42(6): 1065-1098
Authors: Kelsey N. Berry, Haiden A. Huskamp et al.
“Over the past twenty-five years, thirty-seven states and the US Congress have passed mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) parity laws to secure nondiscriminatory insurance coverage for MH/SUD services in the private health insurance market and through certain public insurance programs. However, in the intervening years, litigation has been brought by numerous parties alleging violations of insurance parity. We examine the critical issues underlying these legal challenges as a framework for understanding the areas in which parity enforcement is lacking, as well as ongoing areas of ambiguity in the interpretation of these laws.”
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U.S. states allege broad generic drug price-fixing collusion

Reuters, 1 November 2017
Author: Karen Freifeld
“A large group of U.S. states accused key players in the generic drug industry of a broad price-fixing conspiracy, moving on Tuesday to widen an earlier lawsuit to add many more drugmakers and medicines in an action that sent some company shares tumbling.”
Find article here.

Officer of the Law

N Engl J Med 2017; 377:1610-1611
Author: Raphael Rush
“With rare exceptions, I do not have to share patients’ diagnoses with anyone. But in Ontario, patients with any medical condition that might impair their driving must be reported to the provincial Ministry of Transportation. The treating physician has broad discretion to decide what qualifies as potentially impairing. Like many physicians, I advise patients not to drive until the government deems them fit. It’s one of the few legally required breaks of doctor–patient confidentiality. For each report, the provincial insurer pays doctors $36.25.”
Find article here.