What We're Reading: More Teens Vape Marijuana; Improving Organ Donation; CVS vs the US Government

December 18, 2019
AJMC Staff
AJMC Staff

Annual results from a national survey about drug and alcohol use show more teens are vaping marijuana; HHS is trying to increase rates of organ donation; CVS is accused of fraudulent billing practices.

Teens Vaping and Using E-Cigarettes at Alarming Rates

From 2017 to 2018, the percentage of high school seniors who confessed to using e-cigarettes to vape marijuana jumped from 7.5% to 14%, according to the Los Angeles Times. There was also an almost 91% increase in e-cigarette usage in this group during the same period. These statistics come from the Monitoring the Future report, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the annual survey of drug and alcohol use among the United States’ more than 40,000 eighth, 10th, and 12th graders. The survey has been covering drug use for decades, but a question on daily vaping was only added this year. The most common reasons teens gave for trying e-cigarettes include wanting to check it out and because they were hanging out with their friends.

HHS Changing the Rules on Organ Donation

For decades, lack of available organs has hindered the donation process, The Wall Street Journal reports. With almost 20 patients per day dying, or 8000 per year, while waiting for a new organ and an estimated 115,000 on waiting lists, HHS announced Tuesday the easing of restrictions on organ donation. CMS Administrator Seema Verma detailed the government’s plans, which include raising the age on liver donation eligibility and upping reimbursements for living organ donors for lost income or child- and elder-care assistance. Transplant organizations will also be assessed every year, instead of every 4 years as they had been.

CVS Accused of Violating the False Claims Act

A civil complaint filed by the US government against CVS/Omnicare in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday details alleged fraudulent Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare billing practices, says Reuters. The allegations entail how Omnicare perpetuated prescriptions by assigning them new numbers after they expired or exhausted their refills. These illegally funneled, often dangerous, drugs—including antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants—were supposedly meant for older and disabled patients. The lawsuit originated in June 2015 after an Omnicare pharmacist blew the whistle on these “rollover” prescriptions, an issue Omnicare confirmed at that time.