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What We’re Reading: Supreme Court Sides With Overprescribing Doctors; Push for Contraceptive Coverage; Possible COVID-19 Vaccine Upgrades


The Supreme Court dismissed convictions of 2 doctors accused of overprescribing opioids, moving the cases to lower courts; Cabinet secretaries met with 14 insurers and payer groups to push for contraceptive coverage without co-pays; the FDA may upgrade COVID-19 boosters to target newer subvariants.

Supreme Court Sides With Physicians Convicted of Overprescribing Opioids

As reported by The Washington Post, the Supreme Court dismissed the convictions of 2 doctors accused of overprescribing opioids and operating opioid “pill mills.” The 2 physicians, Xiulu Ruan and Shakeel Kahn, were each originally sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for unlawfully dispensing and distributing prescription drugs. The Supreme Court rejected federal request to affirm the convictions and unanimously agreed to let lower courts review them further, claiming there was not enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the physicians knew or intended to prescribe drugs in an unauthorized way.

HHS, Labor Secretaries Push Insurers to Cover Contraceptives Without Co-pay

Following Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization decision released Friday, in which he suggested the right to contraception should be reconsidered, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Department of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh met with 14 major health insurers and payer groups to push for contraceptive coverage with no cost to their enrollees, Politico reported. Some of these insurers included Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, CVS Health Humana, Kaiser Permanente, Optum, and United Health. Under the Affordable Care Act, payers must cover at least 1 form of contraceptive for each FDA-approved method without co-pay, and the Cabinet secretaries are working to ensure these groups are complying.

FDA May Update COVID-19 Vaccines to Target Newer Subvariants

An independent advisory panel to the FDA is set to announce today whether an updated COVID-19 booster vaccines is needed to target newer strains, The New York Times reported. If recommended, these vaccines will become available in fall 2022. However, they will require laboratory and animal testing since the virus is evolving before human trials can be concluded. Experts also argue that a new vaccine should target the most recent subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, not just the Omicron strain.

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