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A summary of important health news from the past week.

Pfizer says its experimental pill reduces risk of hospitalization, death from Covid-19

By: Maggie Fox and Amanda Sealy

Pfizer has created an experimental pill for preventing severe cases of Covid-19 in people who are high-risk for complications from the virus, including those who are immunocompromised or have an underlying condition. Pfizer says that their pill reduces chances of hospitalization and death for these high-risk patients. The hope is that this pill can be given to people who are diagnosed with Covid-19 while they are at home, preventing the virus from developing into a severe case. The pill is made to prevent the Covid-19 virus from multiplying in the body so that the virus cannot progress. Although this pill is still in its trial phase, the data is looking hopeful for this pill to become a game-changer in preventing severe cases of Covid-19.

Whistleblowers and Fears of Losing Funds Key to Enforcing U.S. Vaccine Rules

By: Reuters

Last Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that vaccine requirements would be mandated for federal workers after Jan. 4. Those included in the mandate include employees of firms with over 100 workers, as well as federal contractors of nursing homes and other healthcare facilities receiving reimbursements under Medicare and Medicaid. On Saturday, the federal appeals court suspended the requirement for private companies to consider the logistics of vaccine enforcement. Because clients do not have access to vaccination records, a large majority of unvaccinated complaints would most likely come from staff member whistleblowers under the False Claims Act. Under the act, employers may be fined by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for vaccine non-compliance. In addition, if healthcare facilities that operate under reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid do not comply with the mandate, possible funding may be revoked.

DEA takes aggressive stance toward pharmacies trying to dispense addiction medicine

As the nation’s opioid epidemic continues to escalate, efforts to combat addiction at the population level by public health and safety authorities are becoming increasingly aggressive. Suboxone & Subutex, two opioid agonists meant to aid those in recovery, have become a point of controversy between the countries Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and pharmacies across the country. Previous efforts by the DEA to delicense facilities that dispense the controlled substance, Suboxone, has deterred pharmacies from carrying the drug, an effect many believe may be exacerbating rather than helping the nation’s opioid abuse problem. Addiction specialists and legal experts alike warn of the consequences of removing Suboxone from pharmacy shelves, as it may push more individuals to seek Subutex illicitly, increasing the risk for overdose or poisoning from laced products.