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What We're Reading: Injunction on Physician Gag Rule; Pharma Distributor Faces Charges; Homeless Deaths


A US District Judge will issue an injunction for family planning physician gag rule, a major pharmaceutical distributor faces criminal charges for its role in the opioid epidemic, and a record number of homeless individuals have been dying in California.

Federal Judge to Issue Injunction in Title X Gag Rule Case

US District Judge Michael J. McShane said yesterday that he will issue a temporary injunction against the Trump Administration’s gag rule that determines what physicians are allowed to communicate about family planning to patients in the Title X program, according to a statement from the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA is the lead plaintiff in a case that seeks to block the rule, which was scheduled to go into effect May 3. McShane’s said he needed more time to determine whether the injunction will be nationwide or apply only to AMA and Planned Parenthood; he will also address requirements for physical and financial separation between Title X and non-Title X abortion-related services. In his ruling, the judge emphasized that the original purpose of the Title X program was to provide family-planning services to low-income individuals, and that the new rule would compromise that goal. The judge agreed with AMA's argument that the Title X program can reduce unintended pregnancies and lower rates of cervical cancer due to screening services.

Pharma Distributor, Former Executives Face Criminal Charges for Role in Opioid Crisis

For the first time, federal authorities are bringing felony drug-trafficking charges against a major pharmaceutical distributor and 2 former executives for their role in exacerbating the opioid crisis, The New York Times reported. The actions are expected to resonate throughout the industry, where individuals and corporations have not previously been held criminally liable for steps they took that led to the epidemic. Prosecutors charged Rochester Drug Cooperative with conspiring to distribute drugs, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and failure to file suspicious order reports. The corporation entered into an agreement that the company will not be prosecuted if it pays a fine of $20 million, complies with controlled substances law, and agrees to be supervised for 5 years by an independent monitor. The company also had to admit in court documents that it intentionally violated federal narcotics laws. Two former executives, Laurence F. Doud III and William Pietruszewski, were also charged with defrauding the government and conspiracy to distribute drugs. Pietruszewski pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors, while Doud pleaded not guilty and faces a minimum sentence of 10 years or a maximum of life in prison if convicted.

Record Numbers of Homeless Dying in California

Deaths among the homeless population in Los Angeles County have increased by 76% over the past 5 years, CaliforniaHealthline reported. A total of 918 deaths occurred last year alone. While health officials and experts have not identified a single cause, they suspect that substance abuse may play a significant role. A third of the deaths have occurred in hospitals, while the majority happened outdoors. Deaths among men outnumbered those among women, but the death rate of homeless women is rising faster than that of homeless men. There was also a substantial increase in deaths of younger homeless individuals. The death rate for homeless people less than 45 years old more than doubled.

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