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

Appeals court kills the dirty trick of using Indian tribes as a front for patent trolls and claiming sovereign immunity

In late 2017, we learned that patent trolls (especially pharma patent gougers) were paying US Native Indian tribes to act as fronts for them in order to block review and cancellation of bogus patents -- the tribes have a treaty right to "sovereign immunity," which protects them from some forms of litigation. Read the rest

Shkrelifreude: while Martin Shkreli rots in prison, his price-gouging pharma company is hemorrhaging money

Smirking pharma-bro Martin Shkreli first came to public attention when he hiked the price of a drug used by people with HIV from $13.50/pill to $750/pill. Read the rest

Giant heroin spoon installed outside of OxyContin manufacturer's headquarters

On Friday, Stamford, Connecticut gallerist Fernando Luis Alvarez and artist Domenic Esposito kindly installed Esposito's large sculpture of a burnt spoon outside of Purdue Pharma, developers of the OxyContin. Police calmly arrested Alvarez and charged him with "obstruction of free passage" and "interfering with police." The current group show at Alvarez's gallery is about the opioid epidemic. He had previously agreed to take the fall for the art action. According to Esposito, the spoon sculpture, titled "Purdue," was inspired by his brother who struggles with drug addiction. From the Hartford Courant:

In 2007, Purdue pleaded guilty in federal court to mislabeling OxyContin and misleading the public about the risk of addiction, and had to pay $600 million. Three company executives were convicted of criminal charges. The firm has been and remains the target of numerous lawsuits, with legal actions against it increasing since the opioid epidemic reached a critical stage...

Robert Josephson, a spokesperson for Purdue, released a statement Friday morning.

“We share the protesters’ concern about the opioid crisis, and respect their right to peacefully express themselves. Purdue is committed to working collaboratively with those affected by this public health crisis on meaningful solutions to help stem the tide of opioid-related overdose deaths.”

photos: Brian O'Neil

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Canada's best weapon in a US trade-war: invalidating US pharma patents

As the US-Canada trade war heats up, Canada finds itself in an asymmetrical battle, vastly overmatched against a country with an order of magnitude population advantage. Read the rest

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