What We're Reading: California Power Outages; Hepatitis A Outbreak; Opioid Crisis Subpoenas

November 27, 2019

Hospitals in California are facing critical decisions on patient care; the FDA and CDC are investigating a multistate hepatitis A outbreak; 6 pharmaceutical giants are being investigated for their potential roles in the opioid crisis.

California Hospitals, Clinics Face Ongoing, Intermittent Power Outages

With the wildfires ravaging California this year, and the state facing intermittent power outages, hospitals, clinics, and patients have been facing a greater number of decisions where critical care is concerned, according to California Healthline. Disaster plans may cover temporary power outages—all California hospitals need to have back-up generators on site with enough diesel fuel to run for 72 hours—but officials still need to make the difficult choice between critical care situations and services they can postpone. With no end to the shortages in site, hospitals and clinics may need to come up with alternate backup plans.

Hepatitis A Outbreak Potentially Linked to Blackberries Sold in 5 States

With 14 cases so far in Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, the most recent being reported on November 15, the FDA and CDC have traced the origins of a multistate outbreak of hepatitis A to berries from an 11-state distribution center for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market stores, according to the FDA. For berries purchased September 9-30 but not consumed, the FDA says to throw them out. And for anyone who consumed them in the previous 2 weeks and is not vaccinated against hepatitis A, they may need postexposure prophylaxis. Also, those who think they may have been sickened by the berries should consult their physician.

Subpoenas Issued in Ongoing Opioid Crisis Investigation

Pending investigation by federal prosecutors from the US Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York, criminal charges could be filed against 4 pharmaceutical companies and 2 distributors for their possible roles in the ongoing opioid crisis, says Reuters. Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), companies must report unusually large or frequent orders of opioids, and these subpoenas are part of a probe into violations of the act, according to filings. In 2016, Cardinal Health was fined $44 million for violating the CSA, and in July, Miami-Luken Inc, an Ohio distributor was charged after it shipped millions of opioid pills to Appalachia.