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What We’re Reading: CDC Director Calls for Overhaul; CVS, Walgreens, Walmart Opioid Lawsuit; Faster Birth Defect Test


CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, called public guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic “confusing and overwhelming”; CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart were ordered to pay $650.6 million to 2 Ohio counties after improperly dispensing prescription painkillers; a new screening method can detect extra or missing chromosomes in embryos and fetuses within hours.

CDC Head Walensky Calls for CDC Reorganization

Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, director of the CDC, addressed the CDC’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic and called for a reorganization of the agency, The New York Times reported. In a video distributed to the thousands of CDC employees, Walensky said the agency failed to respond quickly enough to the pandemic, adding that it is “responsible for some pretty dramatic, pretty public mistakes, from testing to data to communications,” and calling CDC public guidance “confusing and overwhelming.” She closed by saying the CDC must refocus on public health needs and communicate more quickly and effectively in emergencies and disease outbreaks, especially as the monkeypox virus has now been deemed a public health emergency.

CVS, Walgreens, Walmart Ordered to Pay $650 Million in Ohio Opioid Lawsuit

A federal judge ordered pharmacy chains CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart to pay $650.6 million to Lake and Trumbull counties in Ohio after they were found to be flooded with prescription painkillers, The Washington Post reported. Dan A. Polster, US District Judge in Cleveland, said the 3 chains had dispensed painkillers without following controls and procedures to prevent them from being abused and resold, saying the pharmacies had a role in the damage the opioid epidemic has caused in the 2 counties. CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart will also be required to hold additional training on controlled substance dispending, create a hotline where patients and employees can report any inappropriate sales of painkillers, and appoint a controlled-substance compliance officer to review prescription validation processes.

New Method Reduces Time, Money Spent on Birth Defect Testing

Researchers at Columbia University have developed a new method of detecting extra or missing chromosomes in embryos and fetuses, decreasing both the time and money spent on testing for potential birth defects or miscarriages, The New York Times reported. Findings were published in The New England Journal of Medicine after a decade of research; the method uses a palm-sized device to screen reproductive cells and tissues from embryos and fetuses or tissue obtained after miscarriages, taking less than 2 hours to retrieve results and costing $200 per use. Existing testing methods require the cells or tissue to be sent to a testing lab and can take days or weeks to have results ready, whereas this method can be done in the same office in the same day. The developers said results still need to be confirmed by other studies.

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