What We're Reading: CDC Confirms Airborne Spread; White House Nixes New Vaccine Guidelines; Supreme Court Reviewing PBM Law

October 6, 2020

The CDC confirms that SARS-CoV-2 can be spread via airborne particles; the White House blocks new FDA guidelines on bringing potential vaccines to market; the Supreme Court will hear a case on pharmacy benefit managers.

CDC Confirms Airborne Spread of COVID-19

In new guidance published yesterday, the CDC confirmed on its website that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), can be spread via airborne particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours, even among those more than 6 feet apart. Reported by NPR, the airborne aspect of the virus’ transmission has been a topic of debate, as the CDC initially released a guidance acknowledging its airborne spread last month, which was then taken down a few days later after the agency said the announcement was a draft proposal posted in error. In this new guidance, the CDC also acknowledged that under certain circumstances, people have become infected by smaller particles that can linger in the air in enclosed areas with poor ventilation.

White House Blocks Updated FDA Guidelines on Vaccine Approval

The Associated Press reports that the White House has blocked new FDA guidelines on bringing potential vaccines for COVID-19 to market that would have most likely prevented their introduction prior to the November 3 election. In the updated but nixed guidelines, the FDA planned to instruct vaccine manufacturers to follow patients enrolled in their trials for at least 2 months for safety precautions before seeking emergency approval. A senior administration official, who confirmed the overruling yesterday, said the White House believed there would be no clinical or medical reason for the additional safety measures.

Supreme Court to Review Law on Governance of PBMs

Today, the US Supreme Court will hear a closely watched case expected to determine the extent to which states can regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), who have emerged as controversial middlemen in the pharmaceutical supply chain. As reported by STAT, the Arkansas law in question governs reimbursement rates that PBMs must pay to pharmacies. The law would require PBMs to reimburse pharmacies at or above their wholesale costs paid for generic drugs and would also prevent them from paying their own drugstores more than what is paid to other pharmacies.