Physician Practice Roundup—Experts say doctors should offer preventive drug to patients at high risk of HIV

Male doctor in white lab coat
The USPSTF has issued a draft recommendation that patients at high risk of HIV are offered a preventive drug. (Getty/Saklakova)

Experts say doctors should offer preventive drug to patients at high risk of HIV

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued a draft recommendation that doctors offer an HIV prevention drug to patients who are at high risk of infection.

The expert panel is accepting public comment until Dec. 26 on its recommendation.

The USPSTF said it found convincing evidence that HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis has a substantial benefit in decreasing the risk of HIV infection in people at high risk, either through sexual transmission or injection drug use. (Recommendation)

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Opioid treatment center doctor pleads guilty to illegal prescribing

A Pennsylvania doctor who worked at an opioid treatment center pleaded guilty to distributing controlled substances.

Ruth D. Jones, D.O., a prescribing physician with SKS Associates in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, waived indictment and pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of distribution of controlled substances, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and healthcare fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the western district of Pennsylvania. Prosecutors said Jones illegally distributed prescriptions for buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid dependency. She pleaded guilty to conspiring with co-defendant Michael Cash, D.O., who previously pleaded guilty in the case.

When investigators searched SKS Associates they said they found more than 2,000 blank, pre-signed prescriptions with the signatures of Jones or Cash. Jones could face up to 30 years in prison, a fine of $1.25 million or both. Both doctors are awaiting sentencing. (Release)

Policies to protect religious hospitals can limit doctors’ outside work

Policies that protect religious hospitals from having to perform abortions can also tie the hands of doctors, who are sometimes shocked to discover their employer can limit their work based on ethical and moral grounds.

Doctors who want to work at unaffiliated abortion clinics in their own free time, for example, may find that if they work for religious hospitals and their contracts state that they will uphold religious values in their work, they are prohibited from performing abortions, according to an NPR report. (Article)

CVS-Aetna deal scheduled to close this week after getting final regulatory nod

CVS Health's $69 billion acquisition of Aetna is scheduled to close on Wednesday, according to the latest financial filing.

After promising the deal would close before Thanksgiving, the companies were forced to push back the closing date last week while waiting for two states—New Jersey and New York—to approve the merger.

But the deal has received the final regulatory approval necessary to finalize the acquisition, CVS said in a financial filing on Monday. The Department of Justice signed off on the deal last month after Aetna agreed to sell off its Part D business. (FierceHealthcare)

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