What We're Reading: Older Adults Not Using Telehealth; COVID-19 Vaccine Results Promising; Purdue Pharma Facing More Trouble

August 5, 2020

Several issues are affecting the uptake of telehealth services among older adults; phase 1 trials results from Australia demonstrate immune responses from a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine candidate; Purdue Pharma could be on the hook for an $18.1-billion fine from the Justice Department.

Older Adults Missing the Technology Mark for Telehealth

Inexperience with technology, not having a cell phone, and lacking high-speed internet access were cited by 2 recent JAMA Internal Medicine studies as top reasons preventing older adults from using telehealth, reports MedPage Today. And despite HHS promoting the use of telehealth and CMS just yesterday expanding its access for Medicare beneficiaries, possible or probable dementia, difficulty with sight, and problems speaking often make it difficult to adopt the technology at all, the study authors noted. This group of patients is also at higher risk of dying from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) if they seek in-person care, highlighting a possible disparity in care exacerbated by the pandemic.

Biotech Giant Novovax Vaccine Trial Results Look Promising

A 2-site phase 1 trial in Australia from Novovax, an American vaccine development company, is testing NVX-CoV2373, a potential vaccine, among adults aged 18 to 59 years, according to CNBC. Yesterday, the company announced that the 106 participants who received 1 of 4 potential doses showed immune responses, with higher levels of neutralizing antibodies compared with patients who have had COVID-19 and survived. Adverse effects (AEs) included injection-site pain, headache, and fatigue, but no serious AEs were reported. Twenty-five potential COVID-19 vaccines are in human trials, and there are more than 150 in various stages of development, notes the World Health Organization.

Bankrupt Purdue Pharma Being Pursued for Billions by the DOJ

Blamed by many for the opioid addiction crisis, Purdue Pharma was just hit with another blow in the form of the Justice Department seeking up to $18.1 billion as part of its investigation into potential criminal action by the former pharmaceutical giant, The Washington Post details. Thousands of claim have been filed against Purdue from Native American tribes, hospitals, and state and local governments, focused on alleged aggressive marketing between 2010 and 2018 that may have included kickbacks and unnecessary prescriptions, resulting in illegal reimbursements under the False Claims Act.