MorningRX: August 17, 2023

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Appeals court puts restrictions on access to mifepristone, Blue Shield of California drops CVS Health, and Americans think opioids and obesity are the 2 biggest threats to public health.

Appeals Court Puts Restrictions on Abortion Pill Access

The abortion pill mifepristone will remain legal In the United States after a decision by a federal appeals court on Wednesday, the New York Times reported. However, the court put significant restrictions on patient access to the drug, including banning it from being mailed or prescribed via telehealth services. Mifepristone, which is one of the most common ways that abortions are performed, has been approved by the FDA for over 20 years. Wednesday’s decision by the court will not have any immediate effect on access to the pill, as a final ruling needs to be made by the Supreme Court. A ruling by the Supreme Court is expected in the coming months, which could either leave the appeals court’s decision in place or hear an appeal.

CVS Health Dropped by Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California announced that it will be dropping CVS health as its pharmacy benefit manager, according to Reuters. The nonprofit insurer is instead teaming up with 5 companies, including Amazon and Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs, in an attempt save on drug costs for its over 4 million members. The move by Blue Shield of California is expected to save up to $500 million in annual drug costs once it has been fully implemented.

“The current pharmacy system is extremely expensive, enormously complex, completely opaque, and designed to maximize the profit of participants instead of the quality, convenience and cost-effectiveness for consumers,” Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California, said in a release. “That is why we are working with like-minded partners to create a completely new, more transparent system that gets the right drugs to the right people at the right time at a substantially lower cost."

Opioids, Obesity Top Poll of Threats to American Public Health

Americans have ranked opioids and obesity as the top 2 current threats to public health in the country, according to a new poll. Conducted by Axios and Ipsos, the poll also revealed that many no longer see COVID-19 as a serious issue—despite a slight uptick in cases due to the new Eris variant. COVID-19 came in seventh place, followed only by alcohol abuse and “something else.” Access to guns or firearms and cancer came in third and fourth place, respectively, followed by unsafe roads or driving, and smoking or tobacco products.

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