What We're Reading: Juul Federal Probe; Smallpox, Monkeypox Vaccine Approval; Cost of Addressing Surprise Medical Bills

September 25, 2019
AJMC Staff

Federal prosecutors in California are opening a federal probe into Juul Labs; the FDA has approved the first vaccine for smallpox and monkeypox; an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office finds that an approach to address surprise medical bills backed by doctors would cost the government billions.

Federal Prosecutors Investigating Juul

Amid a rise in the number of vaping-related illnesses and multiple states putting temporarily holds on vaping products, federal prosecutors in California are opening a federal probe into Juul Labs. According to The Wall Street Journal, the investigation is in its early stages and the focus of the probe is unclear. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), FDA, and multiple state attorneys are also investigating the e-cigarette maker’s marketing practices. The focus of the FTC probe is centered around whether Juul used social media influences and other marketing practices in order to appear to minors and the FDA is conducting a more wide-range investigation, focusing on marketing and outreach, as well as nicotine levels of the refill pods.

FDA Approves First Smallpox, Monkeypox Vaccine

The FDA has given the nod to the first live, nonreplicating vaccine to prevent smallpox and monkeypox. The Jynneos Smallpox and Monkeypox Vaccine received approval for the prevention of smallpox and monkeypox in adults aged 18 years or older who are determined to be at high risk for smallpox and monkeypox infection. The vaccine is also part of the Strategies National Stockpile, which is the country’s largest supply of potentially lifesaving treatments and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to causes shortages of local supplies.

CBO Says Surprise Medical Bill Fix Would Cost Billions

An approach to curbing surprise medical bills that is backed by doctors groups would increase the deficit by “double digit billions” of dollars, according to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. According to The Hill, the approach has the support of doctor and hospital groups that are lobbying hard against leading legislation, arguing it would lead to damaging cuts to their payments. However, the new analysis shows that their favored approach would come with a high price tag while the leading approach would save the government $20 billion over 10 years. The difference between the 2 approaches is regarding how much the insurer would pay a doctor once a patient is protected.