R.J. Reynolds on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging California's ban on flavored tobacco, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Colorado, Illinois, and California.
- Colorado: Colorado passed Proposition 122—a measure that will legalize psychedelics. As of Thursday, the measure passed with 51.4% of the vote. Colorado is the second state to legalize psychedelics after Oregon passed a similar measure in 2020. The state plans to establish licensed "healing centers" where individuals can take psychedelics under supervision. "This is a truly historic moment. Colorado voters saw the benefit of regulated access to natural medicines, including psilocybin, so people with PTSD, terminal illness, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can heal," said Kevin Matthews and Veronica Lightning Horse Perez, leaders of Natural Medicine Colorado, an organization that campaigned for the measure. (Goldhill, STAT, 11/10)
- Illinois: Primary care provider VillageMD—a division of Walgreens Boots Alliance—on Monday announced an $8.9 billion dollar deal to acquire Summit Health, the parent company of CityMD urgent-care centers. According to the companies, the deal is expected to close on Jan. 1, 2023. After the acquisition is complete, VillageMD and Summit Health will have around 20,000 employees in over 680 locations across 26 markets. VillageMD CEO Tim Barry said the acquisition is an "epic milestone" for the company. While VillageMD has historically served as a primary care provider, Barry said it wants to move into multispecialty care. "For us, it really is just a logical extension of the journey that we've been on for a long time," Barry said. "When you think about VillageMD being able to help bring these value-based care components and help accelerate the journey that Summit's already been on, and then you think about the multispecialty capability that Summit can bring to help accelerate the journey that we've been on, it just starts to make all the sense in the world." (Cooper, Wall Street Journal, 11/7; Reuters/CNBC, 11/7; Hudson, Modern Healthcare, 11/7)
- California: R.J. Reynolds on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging California's ban on flavored tobacco. The company, which manufactures Newport menthol cigarettes and vaping products, filed the lawsuit just one day after voters approved the measure. Under the law, which was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) two years ago, the sale of all flavored tobacco and vaping products will be prohibited, impacting a large portion of tobacco companies' sales. Reynolds has requested an injunction to prevent the law from taking effect. The lawsuit has drawn criticism from supporters of the ban. "This is a corporation that sells deadly products trying desperately to overcome the will of the people of the state of California—manipulating the legal system in an attempt to undo democracy," said Desmond Jenson, a senior lawyer in tobacco control programs at the Public Health Law Center. (Jewett, New York Times, 11/10)