Americans with diabetes are forming caravans to buy Canadian insulin at 90% off

The price-gouger-driven skyrocketing prices for insulin have endangered the lives of Americans with diabetes, who are rationing their supplies and trying not to die. Read the rest

Fentanyl execs found guilty of racketeering, face 20 year prison sentences

Five senior execs at Insys Therapeutics (manufacturer of Subsys, a type of fentanyl), have been convicted of criminal racketeering and fraud charges stemming from the company's practice of bribing doctors to overprescribe their incredibly addictive and dangerous product, and for defrauding Medicare in the process. Read the rest

After boasting about running his company from prison, Martin Shkreli gets solitary confinement

Martin Shkreli's poor impulse control continues to land him in terrible trouble: his price-gouging on lifesaving drugs didn't land him in prison, but his profligate boasting about it did (to say nothing of the revocation of his bail after he put a bounty on Hillary Clinton's hair follicles). Read the rest

UPDATE: New York State goes after the Sackler family's opioid fortune, claims they funneled their Oxy millions through offshore laundries

Update: We have received a legal letter from Thomas A. Clare, of Clare Locke LLP, writing on behalf of the Sacklers expressing the family's concern that the image of a guillotine and the "guillotine watch" tag originally accompanying this post would be interpreted as a call to violence against the Sackler family, who have, per Mr Clare, received such threats. For avoidance of doubt, the use of the guillotine image and "guillotine watch" tag is intended as hyperbole and should not be interpreted as a call for violence against anyone, including any member of the Sackler family. I apologize unreservedly for any distress Sacklers experienced due to my hyperbole, or any concern this raised on their part that violence would be forthcoming. I also apologize for my imprecise use of the word "criminal" to refer to the Sacklers' activities; I have amended the relevant passage to read "alleged criminal," as there have been no criminal convictions stemming from Purdue or its owners' activities in relation to the opioid epidemic or the marketing of Oxycontin. -Cory

The Sacklers (previously) are mostly known around the world as "philanthropists," with their names adorning the wings of galleries, museums and institutes of higher learning; but the Sackler family fortune came from their pharmaceutical company, Purdue, whose deceptive marketing and underhanded regulatory evasion for their highly addictive drug Oxycontin has contributed to the prescription opioid overdose deaths of 200,000 Americans so far, with another 200,000 overdoses from heroin and other opioids likely related to the addiction epidemic created by Purdue and the Sacklers. Read the rest

Ketamine works great for depression and other conditions, and costs $10/dose; the new FDA-approved "ketamine" performs badly in trials and costs a fortune

Ketamine is a sedative first synthesized in 1962; its patents have long elapsed and it costs pennies; it has many uses and is also sold illegally for use as a recreational drug, but in recent years it has been used with remarkable efficacy as a treatment for a variety of disorders, including depression, anxiety, and chronic pain (I have lifelong chronic pain and my specialist has prescribed very low doses of it for me at bedtime). Read the rest

America is not "polarized": it's a land where a small minority tyrannize the supermajority

Writing in the New York Times, Tim Wu (previously) describes the state of American politics after decades of manipulation dirty tricks and voter suppression, where policies with extremely high levels of public approval like higher taxes on the super-rich (75%), paid maternity leave (67%), net neutrality (83%), parallel importation of pharmaceuticals from Canada (71%) and empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices (92%) are nevertheless considered politically impossible. Read the rest

After promising health care execs that Medicare for All was dead, Pelosi's team plans toothless pharma deal

If there's one issue that the Democrats could win votes with, it's limits on pharmaceutical prices, because virtually every American agrees that we're being ripped off by Big Pharma (and that goes double for Obama Democrat voters who switched to being Trump voters in 2016). Read the rest

One of pharma's most notorious gougers is going bankrupt, but 2019 is a banner year for shkreli-grade pharmaceutical price-hikes

Back in September 2016, Novum Pharma made headlines when it raised the price of Aloquin, a barely-effective acne cream from $240/tube to $10,000/tube, after acquiring the exclusive right to manufacture it. Read the rest

During a secret meeting, a top Pelosi health aide told medical insurers that there was no need to worry about Medicare for All passing

Wendell Primus is one of Nancy Pelosi's top health aides. Leaked slides from a closed-door meeting with Blue Cross execs reveal that he has been quietly advising the health insurance industry that there is no danger of Democrats pursuing a "Medicare for All" strategy, and offered them what amounted to a quid pro quo that would keep them safe from nationalized healthcare if they would break with the pharma industry to help lower drug prices. Read the rest

Not customers: doctors have patients, libraries have patrons, lawyers have clients and teachers have students

Professionalization isn't perfect: historically, professional societies "were structured around hierarchies of gender and race and laypeople were expected to obey expert judgment without even asking questions." Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's new bill: let the US government manufacture generic versions of overpriced, unavailable drugs

Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced a bill called the Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act, which allows the US government to manufacture generic versions of drugs "in cases in which no company is manufacturing a drug, when only one or two companies manufacture a drug and its price has spiked, when the drug is in shortage, or when a medicine listed as essential by the World Health Organization faces limited competition and high prices." Read the rest

Meet John Horgan and the BC NDP - North America’s most progressive government

If you live outside province you likely haven’t heard much about our new government, but here in British Columbia changes are happening fast, and you should know about them. Read the rest

The billionaire family who profited off the opioid epidemic are finally facing legal reprisals

The Sackler Family (previously) are a family of self-styled philanthropist billionaires who have been largely successful in their campaign to whitewash their family name by giving away a few percentage points off the profits they earned from deliberately creating the opioid epidemic by tricking and bribing doctors to overprescribe Oxycontin, falsely claiming that it was not addictive, and promoting the idea that any doctor who left a patient feeling pain was engaged in malpractice. Read the rest

As Canada-US trade-war draws nigh, so does the threat to nationalise US pharma patents

Last June, U of Ottawa law professor/biomedical scientist Amir Attaran floated the idea of invalidating US pharma patents as a way for Canada to retaliate against trade attacks by the Trump administration. Read the rest

"Spread Pricing" transparency reveals the millions CVS rakes in by gouging Medicare and prisons on prescription markups

CVS isn't just in the business of operating retail pharmacies: equally important is its prescription administration services, where it buys drugs from independent pharmacies, marks them up, and sells them to government-run programs like Medicare and prisons, using "spread pricing" to determine the markup that it applies to generic drugs. Read the rest

Former Obama trade official teams up with Trump to create highly profitable TB epidemics in poor countries

When Josh Black quit his job as Obama's director for U.N. and Multilateral Affairs after the 2016 election (citing "growing disillusionment"), he found a sweet job as Associate Vice President for International Advocacy at Phrma, the global lobbying group for the pharmaceutical industry, which meant that he still got to work at the UN, but now he'd be advocating for giant, rapacious corporations that hold peoples' lives hostage to their profits! (speaking as a former NGO observer at the World Intellectual Property Organization from the era of the Access to Medicines treaty, Phrma are effectively public health war criminals). Read the rest

Four Thieves Vinegar Collective: DIY epipens were just the start, now it's home bioreactors to thwart Big Pharma's price-gouging

When last we met the Four Thieves Vinegar collective -- a group of anarchist scientists who combine free/open chemistry with open source hardware in response to shkrelic gouging by pharma companies -- they were announcing the epipencil, a $30 DIY alternative to the Epipen, Mylan's poster-child for price-gouging and profiteering on human misery. Read the rest

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