What We’re Reading: Boosting Vaccine Rates; Purdue Pharma Immunity; Decriminalizing Psychedelics

AJMC Staff

President Joe Biden announces a new initiative to get more adults vaccinated against COVID-19; Purdue Pharma may be immune from future opioid-related lawsuits; the California senate approves a bill decriminalizing psychedelic drugs.

Initiative Encourages COVID-19 Vaccinations

President Joe Biden announced a National Month of Action aimed at mobilizing organizations and individuals across the country to get more Americans vaccinated by July 4. The goal is to have at least 70% of US adults with at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by that date. National organizations, local government leaders, community- and faith-based partners, and other influencers will work together to get communities vaccinated throughout June. As part of the plan, free childcare will be offered to those getting vaccinated and pharmacies will offer extended hours to increase appointment flexibility.

Purdue Pharma May Be Immune From Future Opioid Lawsuits

This week, a bankruptcy plan for Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin (oxycodone), cleared a major hurdle when a federal judge in White Plains, New York, moved forward a controversial deal despite objections, NPR reports. The decision sets the stage for a final vote by Purdue’s creditors, which is set for this summer. In 2019, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after facing numerous lawsuits regarding its opioid sales practices, which helped fuel the nation’s opioid epidemic. As a result of the recent developments, the Sacker family—members of whom own Purdue—may be poised to win immunity from future opioid lawsuits.

California Senate Votes to Decriminalize Psychedelics

The California senate approved legislation to decriminalize the possession or sharing of psychedelic drugs, according to KQED. The bill, which would allow doctors to prescribe psychedelics to treat mental health disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), will now move to the state assembly. The move comes after a May study published in Nature Medicine found use of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, also known as ecstasy) along with counseling helped improve patients with PTSD to the point where they no longer qualified for a diagnosis of the condition. Opponents to the bill say it will lead to an increased rate of the drugs sold and recreationally used.