What We're Reading: Judge Approves CVS, Aetna Deal; $2 Billion to Combat Opioid Epidemic; First US Psychedelic Center Opens

A federal judge has ruled that CVS' purchase of Aetna was legal under antitrust law; the Trump administration announced $1.8 billion in grants to help states and communities combat the opioid epidemic; Johns Hopkins Medicine has launched the first psychedelic research center in the United States.

Judge Approves CVS, Aetna Acquisition

A federal judge has approved CVS’ purchase of Aetna, agreeing with a Justice Department decision that the merger is legal under antitrust law, Reuters has reported. A government plan announced in October said it would allow the merger on the condition that the health insurer sell its Medicare prescription drug plan business to WellCare Health Plans. Both deals have already closed, and since then, Centene has agreed to acquire WellCare for $15.27 billion. CVS said the judge’s decision reinforced that CVS and Aetna have already merged.

Nearly $2 Billion in Grants Awarded to Combat Opioid Epidemic

The Trump administration on Wednesday announced that it is awarding $1.8 billion in grants to help combat the opioid epidemic. Approximately $980 million will go to states and some territories to focus on prevention and treatment, including through expanding rural telemedicine, expanding access to overdose reversal drug naloxone, and prevention programs. According to The Wall Street Journal, another $900 million will go to CDC over 3 years in order to help states and communities track overdose data and implement treatment strategies.

First Psychedelic Research Center Opens in the United States

Johns Hopkins Medicine has launched the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, the first of its kind in the country. The center will study substances like LSD and psilocybin for a variety of mental health conditions, including anorexia, addiction, and depression, reported The New York Times. The center was created with $17 million in funding from private donors and a foundation. Some scientists have been exploring the potential of psychedelics and other recreational drugs for psychiatric problems since the early 2000s.