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January 4, 2021

Around the nation: How AMA wants Big Tech to fight vaccine misinformation

Daily Briefing

    The American Medical Association in a recent letter asked the CEOs of six major social media companies to help disseminate timely and accurate information about Covid-19 vaccines and boost marginalized communities' acceptance of vaccines, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Illinois, and Maryland.

    • Arkansas/District of Columbia: The Department of Justice (DOJ) last week filed a 160-page lawsuit against Walmart that alleges the company fueled America's opioid epidemic by inadequately screening questionable prescriptions despite receiving multiple warnings from its pharmacists about them, and by understaffing its network of pharmacies and pressuring pharmacists to rapidly fill prescriptions in an effort to increase the company's profits, which made it challenging for pharmacists to reject invalid prescriptions. The lawsuit also claims that Walmart knew its system for detecting suspicious orders for controlled substances was insufficient. Walmart criticized the lawsuit in a recent public filling, saying the suit "invents a legal theory that unlawfully forces pharmacists to come between patients and their doctors, and is riddled with factual inaccuracies and cherry-picked documents taken out of context." The company added that it blocked thousands of suspicious providers from having their patients fill opioid prescriptions at its pharmacies (Benner/Corkery, New York Times, 12/22; Balsamo/D'Innocenzio, Associated Press, 12/22; Puko/Gurman, Wall Street Journal, 12/22; DOJ release, 12/22).
    • Illinois: The American Medical Association (AMA) last month sent a letter urging the CEOs of six major social media companies—Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube—to boost their companies' efforts to combat the spread of misinformation and disinformation about Covid-19 vaccines on their platforms. In the letter, AMA also asked the CEOs to help disseminate timely and accurate information about vaccines from public health agencies, such as FDA and CDC, and boost marginalized communities' acceptance of vaccines. "We encourage you to continue evaluating your existing policies that are designed to combat misinformation to ensure they are as effective and comprehensive as possible. Lives—and the success of this historic effort—are on the line," AMA CEO and EVP James Madara wrote (Drees, Becker's Health IT, 12/21).
    • Maryland: CMS last month finalized a rule intended to make it easier for private insurers, state Medicaid programs, and prescription drug manufacturers to enter value-based purchasing arrangements that are based on a prescription drug's clinical outcomes. Among other things, the final rule will permit insurers to create bundled contracts with drugmakers and allow drugmakers to report several "best prices" for prescription drugs as an incentive for them to enter into value-based arrangements with states and Medicaid managed care organizations, CMS said. The final rule is scheduled to take effect in January 2022 (Brady, "Transformation Hub," Modern Healthcare, 12/21; CMS release, 12/21; Minemyer, FierceHealthcare, 12/21).

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