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What We're Reading: FDA Investigating Juul; Sutter Health Handed Lawsuit; European Doctor Sues FDA

AJMC Staff
Juul is being investigated for making unauthorized safety claims, while the governor of New York proposes to ban flavored e-cigarettes; Sutter Health is being sued for its role in rising healthcare costs; a European doctor who uses telemedicine and internet prescribing to provide American women with mifepristone and misoprostol to induce abortion in the first trimester is suing the FDA.

FDA and Federal Trade Commission Investigating Juul for Marketing Practices

The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission are investigating Juul Labs Inc. for unauthorized claims that its e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes, according to The Wall Street Journal. The FDA sent 2 letters to the e-cigarette manufacturer stating that it was troubled by Juul’s marketing and outreach practices. The agency cited a testimony from a July congressional hearing that described how a Juul representative told children in a school presentation that their product is “totally safe.” A Juul spokesman said they are reviewing the letter and will cooperate. Separately, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation to ban flavored e-cigarettes across the state. Reuters reports that 41 of the 450 cases being investigated by the FDA and CDC are in New York, but no links have been made between the illnesses and any specific e-cigarette product or ingredient.


Sutter Health Handed Lawsuit Over Medical Pricing

Sutter Health has been handed a class-action lawsuit for accusations of violating California’s antitrust laws by leveraging its market power to impede competition and overcharge patients, according to Kaiser Health News. Economists and researchers have previously blamed the high cost of healthcare in Northern California on giant medical systems that monopolize surrounding hospitals and physician practices. Sutter Health, a nonprofit chain with 24 hospitals, 34 surgery centers, and 5000 physicians, reported a $13 billion profit in operating revenue in 2018, with healthcare costs in their stronghold of Northern California 20% and 30% higher than in Southern California. Plaintiffs seek up to $900 million in damages, but the award could potentially be tripled to $2.7 billion.


European Doctor Sues FDA Over Crackdown on Prescribing Abortion Drugs

A European doctor who uses telemedicine and internet prescribing to provide American women with mifepristone and misoprostol to induce abortion in the first trimester is suing the FDA, NPR reported. Rebecca Gomperts, MD, says she believes federal officials have seized between 3 and 10 doses of abortion drugs she has prescribed through her organization, Aid Access, since March. The lawsuit also says that Gomperts believes the government has blocked Aid Access from receiving payments from some patients. Since March 2018, 37,000 women from all 50 states have contacted Aid Access, the lawsuit says.

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