One of the striking features of the drug world is how pharma companies become noticeably more inventive immediately before their patents are due to run out and their drugs are about to enter the public domain. That’s because they need to find a way to differentiate themselves from the generic manufacturers that are then able to offer the same medicines for often vastly lower prices.
Usually this takes the form of modifying the formula of a drug slightly, patenting it, and then seeking to convince the medical profession that the new formulation is better in some way. Butsometimes it involves more novel approaches, as here:
In coming months, generic drug producers are expected to introduce cheaper versions of OxyContin and Opana, two long-acting narcotic painkillers, or opioids, that are widely abused.
But in hopes of delaying the move to generics, the makers of the brand name drugs, Purdue Pharma and Endo Pharmaceuticals, have introduced versions that are more resistant to crushing or melting, techniques abusers use to release the pills’ narcotic payloads.
As the New York Times article quoted above reports, having introduced these “tamper-resistant” designs, the pharma companies are now pushing to get a ban on generic versions that lack this feature. If you think of “tamper-resistant” techniques as a kind of DRM for drugs, the pharma companies are effectively asking for their own version of the DMCA, which forbids the circumvention of DRM.
The drug companies have dressed this up as a service to society, but some aren’t buying it:
While companies like Purdue Pharma insist the public’s health is their main concern, others note that producers introduced tamper-resistant versions of their products just as the drugs were about to lose patent protection. In court papers filed in response to Endo’s lawsuit, the F.D.A. described the company’s action as a “thinly veiled attempt to maintain its market share and block generic competition.”
There’s no doubt that the abuse of painkillers is a significant problem, but according to another recent story, in The Washington Post, alarming levels of addiction to OxyContin and similar painkillers may be partly the drug companies’ fault. For instead of warning doctors about this issue, the latter were assured that there were “minimal risks of addiction and dependence” if they prescribed these kinds of drugs for their patients:
according to a Washington Post examination of key scientific papers, a court document and FDA records, many of those claims [about minimal risks] were developed in studies supported by Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, or other drug manufacturers. In addition, the conclusions they reached were sometimes unsupported by the data, and when the FDA was struggling to come up with an opioid policy, it turned to a panel populated by doctors who had financial relationships with Purdue and other drugmakers.
So it would seem that rather than mandating the use of tamper-resistant packaging for these kinds of painkillers, a better long-term solution would be to avoid the use of these drugs altogether, where possible.
One of the victims, Felipe Juarez, 34,, was shot in the chest and stomach. He was taken to Ben Taub Hospital in critical condition. His name was not released.
That’s just the given name. What humans call him. His INTRINSIC name – the name by which the universe knows him – is still concealed, so you can’t make a voodoo doll to kill him. That’s just responsible.
This legislative session the State of North Dakota has made large strides in the areas of transparency. The state has created an online video system through which floor debates in the state House and Senate are streamed and archived, and they’ve created a bill tracking system through which anyone can long in, look up bills and create lists to track the ones they like.
I’ve already been using this system extensively, and while using it I noticed that there was an area where users could type in comments. Now, North Dakota’s open records laws are very broad and very strong, so I wondered if the comments users were typing into the system were accessible via an open records request.
So on Monday at 5:18pm I emailed an open records request to legislative council requesting an electronic copy of all comments made to date.
As of the writing of this post I haven’t yet received a response to my request, but floor debate in the House today is all the answer I need as to why. House Majority Leader Al Carlson has rushed “emergency” legislation to the floor, bypassing completely the committee process, aimed at protecting comments in the legislative tracking system from open records request.
Not long ago, quinoa was just an obscure Peruvian grain you could only buy in wholefood shops. We struggled to pronounce it (it’s keen-wa, not qui-no-a), yet it was feted by food lovers as a novel addition to the familiar ranks of couscous and rice. Dieticians clucked over quinoa approvingly because it ticked the low-fat box and fitted in with government healthy eating advice to “base your meals on starchy foods”.
But there is an unpalatable truth to face for those of us with a bag of quinoa in the larder. The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper.
Soya, a foodstuff beloved of the vegan lobby as an alternative to dairy products, is another problematic import, one that drives environmental destruction [see footnote]. Embarrassingly, for those who portray it as a progressive alternative to planet-destroying meat, soya production is now one of the two main causes of deforestation in South America, along with cattle ranching, where vast expanses of forest and grassland have been felled to make way for huge plantations.
So this is apparently a real thing from the Wall Street Journal.
The Onion couldn’t top this. Whether it’s the sad faces of all these put-upon dejected rich people, or the elderly minority couple who is depressed despite not paying extra taxes (or was that the point?), or the distressed single Asian lady making $230,000 who might not be able to buy that extra designer pantsuit this year, or the “single mother” making $260,000 whose kids presumably have a deadbeat, indigent dad just like any other poor family, or that struggling family of six making $650,000 including $180,000 of pure passive income and wondering how to make ends meet, mockery is almost superfluous. The thing mocks itself. That $650,000 family in particular is bizarre to the point of incredulity: those people could literally stop working entirely, live extremely well on $180,000 while doing nothing but watching television all day and staying home with their kids, and leave their high-salary jobs with their oh-so-onerous tax requirements to people who actually appreciate them.
These folks live in a Versailles bubble, modern day edition. But even they’re not the ones with the real money. The real plutocrats outstrip even these jokers by exponential leaps and bounds. And they’re the ones who drive public policy in this country.
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Eine junge Frau ist in Köln vergewaltigt worden. Eine Notärztin schickte die 25-Jährige zur Beweissicherung in Krankenhäuser der katholischen Trägerschaft. Doch die Vergewaltigte wurde abgewiesen – aus „ethischen und theologischen Gründen“.
-25 year old woman goes partying in cologne
-wakes up a day later in the park
-ER suspects rape and sends her for rape kit to catholic hospital
-catholic hospital has new policy of denying rape kits, because they would have give counsel about possible pregnancy and give out emergency contraceptives
-doctors who do not follow this policy might get fired without further notice (usually it takes pretty long to fire somebody in Germany)
-A speaker of the archbishopricy (SP) said catholic hospitals do not give out emergency contraceptives because it collides with the catholic church’s ethics and moral/theological principles
-Christian Democratic Union’s Congresswoman says it’s a scandal and all hospitals should help victims of rape
And to make it worse the emergency contraceptive was already prescribed.
Yes, the prosecutors insisted on jail time and a felony conviction as part of a plea. But it is not particularly surprising for federal prosecutors to use those tactics. What’s unusual about the Swartz case is that it involved a highly charismatic defendant with very powerful friends in a position to object to these common practices. That’s not to excuse what happened, but rather to direct the energy that is angry about what happened. If you want to end these tactics, don’t just complain about the Swartz case. Don’t just complain when the defendant happens to be a brilliant guy who went to Stanford and hangs out with Larry Lessig. Instead, complain that this is business as usual in federal criminal cases around the country — mostly with defendants who no one has ever heard of and who get locked up for years without anyone else much caring.