What We're Reading: California Halts Soda Taxes; Massive Drug Takedown; Amazon Shakes Pharmacy Firms

June 29, 2018

The California state legislature approved a last-minute deal to halt soda taxes for 12 years; the Department of Justice charged 601 people for taking part in a variety of frauds and schemes that resulted in more than $2 billion in healthcare losses; Amazon buying PillPack, an online pharmacy, is exactly what the pharmacy business has been fearing.

California Halts Soda Taxes Until 2031

The California state legislature approved a last-minute deal to ban soda taxes for 12 years between one of the state’s largest labor unions and the American Beverage Association, California Healthline reported. Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signed the measure, which gives the industry a break until January 1, 2031. In return, local municipalities will avoid a fight at the ballot box on a broader proposal that could have made it more difficult for them to raise general taxes and fees. Some state lawmakers said the deal holds Californians “hostage.”

DOJ Charges 601 in Massive Healthcare Fraud Schemes, Including Opioid Cases

The Department of Justice charged 601 people, including doctors, for taking part in a variety of frauds and schemes that resulted in more than $2 billion in healthcare losses, including improper billing to Medicare and Medicaid. Reuters reported the hundreds of suspects charged included 162 doctors and other suspects for their roles in prescribing and distributing addictive opioid painkillers. The arrests came in dozens of unrelated prosecutions announced together as part of an annual healthcare fraud takedown.

Amazon Shakes Up Pharmacy Chains With Purchase of Online Firm PillPack

Amazon buying PillPack, an online pharmacy, is exactly what the pharmacy business has been fearing, The New York Times reported. Amazon faced the problem of securing pharmacy licenses in each state, but PillPack is already licensed to ship drugs in 50 states. That paves the way for the ecommerce giant to become a major player in pharmacy retail overnight. PillPack, a startup, distributes pills in easy-to-use packages designed for patients with chronic conditions and multiple prescriptions.