On April 1, 2021, Houston Methodist Hospital announced a policy requiring employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 by June 7, 2021, starting with the leadership and then inoculating the remaining workers, all at its expense. 117 employees sued to block the vaccination requirement tied to employment termination. Employees argued that that the hospital is forcing its employees to be vaccinated or be fired, which they claimed was illegal.
On June 12, 2021, a Texas federal judge dismissed the lawsuit. In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes upheld the hospital’s policy and said the vaccination requirement did not break any federal laws. Judge Hughes stated, “Texas law only protects employees from being terminated for refusing to commit an act carrying criminal penalties to the worker”. “Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination is not an illegal act, and it carries no criminal penalties.”
Judge Hughes held that requiring an employee to receive a vaccination did not amount to coercion, stating, “Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus . . . [the plaintiffs] can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if [they] refuse, [they] will simply need to work somewhere else.” Judge Hughes likened the refusal to acquire a vaccination to the refusal of an assignment, office change, or earlier start time—all for which an employee may be properly fired.
Employees have vowed to appeal the decision.
Novavax – Novavax announced that its Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial found the Novavax vaccine to be >90% effective overall, including variants and offered 100% protection against moderate and severe disease. The company said it intends to file for FDA authorization in the third quarter.
Medicago – Researchers have developed a plant-based vaccine. Reported interim findings from phase 2 clinical trials look promising. The vaccine uses a relative of the tobacco plant. Like other COVID-19 vaccines, this plant-based option is a two-dose shot given 21 days apart.
According to the CDC, as of 6/21/2021, 379 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered. 318 million doses of vaccine have been administered. This accounts for the following percentages of fully vaccinated people in the U.S.:
Pharmacy organizations throughout the U.S. are asking for legislation that they say would stop the abuse of pharmacy price concessions, known as direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees that are charged by Pharmacy Benefit Managers. These fees have been reported to have increased nearly 100,000% in recent years.
Groups voicing their support for The Pharmacy DIR Reform to Reduce Senior Drug Costs Act (S. 1909 / H.R. 3554), include The Food Industry Association, the National Grocers Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association, the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, National Association of Specialty Pharmacy and American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.
Here is a link to a whitepaper by Inmar and NACDS explaining DIR fees.
In 1991 when The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was enacted, it was put into place to protect consumers from a rampant growth in the number of telephone marketing calls. Three decades ago, most consumers were using landline phones and the world’s first text message wouldn’t be sent until a year later in December 1992. Needless to say, in 1991, Congress could not possibly know about the evolution of the mobile phone nor the advent of sending messages by SMS/text. For the past ten plus years, courts have been clarifying what the TCPA protects and how. Violations of TCPA can result in fines of up to $1,500 per incident/call and multimillion-dollar judgments against violators have been levied. Keeping up to date on what is permissible and what is not is vital to any organization.
In the newest blog, MarkeTouch’s Matt Feltman (VP-Clinical Services) and Charles Russo (President) share the recent US Supreme Court decision related to text messaging and its impacts on healthcare.