For the latest medical news, join the Hub! We deliver monthly highlights straight to you, so you can keep your finger on the industry's pulse. Click here to sign up now! From the possibility of federal mandatory vaccines to the Tobacco to 21 Act, here's the recap for what went down in April.
Could Mandatory Measles Vaccinations Become Federal Law?
We are in the midst of the biggest measles outbreak since 1994, with 704 cases affecting states all over the country: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee and Washington.
New York and Washington are experiencing the highest concentrations of the outbreak. The measles crisis has led to several school closures and has even prompted mandatory vaccinations in the state of New York.
This month, New York health officials issued an emergency order requiring people living in certain areas of Brooklyn to get the vaccine or face a $1,000 penalty. The mandate faced severe backlash from anti-vaxxer groups, but the health department is standing its ground.
As Brooklyn Judge Lawrence Knipel affirmed in support of state health officials, “A fireman need not obtain the informed consent of the owner before extinguishing a house fire. Vaccination is known to extinguish the fire of contagion."
These developments in New York and the severity of recent outbreaks may incite federal action. At present, nearly all states allow parents to exercise their right to vaccine exemption for their children and let them attend public school without the necessary immunizations, but that may no longer be the case after this year.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in an interview that if states continue these lax vaccine laws, they are “going to force the hand of the federal health agencies.”
What do you think: Should mandatory vaccinations for measles and other severe illnesses become federal law, or is the government infringing on people’s personal liberties? We’re interested to hear your insights.
U.S. First in the Battle Against Opioids
Until now, pharmaceutical distributors linked to suspicious activity fueling the opioid crisis have remained relatively unscathed. However, this most recent development may be a defining moment in the battle against opioids.
For the first time ever, a pharmaceutical company and two of its former executives have been criminally charged for drug trafficking. As one of the top ten distributors in the country, Rochester Drug Co-Operative had a major stake in perpetuating the opioid crisis.
The company’s former chief executive Laurence Doud III and former chief compliance officer William Pietruszewski, who has already pleaded guilty, will both face lifetime sentences.
Rochester Drug Co-Operative admitted to the illegal distribution of “tens of millions of doses of oxycodone, fentanyl and other opioids to pharmacies that its own compliance department found had no legitimate need for them.” For this, the company faces a $20 million fine and must abide by third party supervision and reform its compliance program.
Though the fine is only a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated $78.5 billion a year in healthcare costs due the opioid crisis—the case delivers a resounding message to the pharmaceutical industry.
Lawmakers Collaborate to Raise Minimum Age to Buy Tobacco Products
In a rare show of bipartisanship, U.S. lawmakers are working together to push a bill to become law that would raise the federal minimum age to buy tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, to 21.
The bill, known as the Tobacco to 21 Act, is a major development on the public health front, as cigarette smoking accounts for 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S. annually and is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide.
Lawmakers also hope the Tobacco to 21 Act will help quell the surging rates of teen tobacco use in the form of vaping.
Various public health groups including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association all support the bill and its efforts to protect the American people, specifically our youth.