Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Good Guys/Bad Guys in the Pharm Game

I’m trying to sort through the crappola printed on the New York Times front page this morning: “Biotech Firms, Billions at Risk, Lobby States to Limit Generics”. 

The nut of this article is that big-bucks pharmaceutical firms are trying to get state and
federal l legislatures to make laws prohibiting the manufacture of generic drugs—those drugs that are just like the brand name originals but muchmuchmuch cheaper.
Where the crappola comes in, is in the parsing. Some of those cheaper drugs are called generics and some are called biosimilars—in any case, they are made by chemical processes rather than produced in living cells. The big pharms are claiming they aren’t safe because they are not really “just like” the originals and therefore should not have the same name as the originals. Laws say that generic drugs have to have the same name as brand name drugs or they cannot be used interchangeably.
Legislators who have gotten on the band wagon to outlaw generics because they are not safe are going on record bloviating about the complexity of the “molecules” which they do not understand any bettter than you and I. What the legislators do understand is that the big-bucks pharmaceuticals have elected legislators by giving huge donations to political campaigns and political parties and they expect a quid pro quo.
What is not at issue here is the safety and health of patients. 
If the pharms cared one iota about patient health they would not spend billions of dollars on ad campaigns to promote drugs that have lethal side effects and/or have not been properly tested for safety. In addition, these pharms would not put drugs on the market which the pharms themselves admit have a 5% chance of being lethal—which percentage drug companies call “acceptable”.
A 5% possibility of horrific side effects , cancer and death may not be acceptable to you and me, but it is an acceptable rate of failure to drug companies.
What is at the heart of this hue and cry about generic drugs and their so-called safety is money. If you and I and doctors and hospitals opt for cheaper drugs, the big pharmaceuticals lose billions and billions of dollars. And that rate of failure is not acceptable to the big pharms.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Obama & Clinton on 60 Minutes…WTF?

Here you go…the real agenda for the 60 Minutes Interview:
1) Obama endorsing Hillary’s 2016 run for Prez
2) Hillary and Barack’s last chance together to explain away the Benghazi debacle while she’s still Secretary of State and before she runs for Prez
3) Hillary needs to reassure her constituents that she is now healthy after the blood clot incident

And here are the elephants in the room:
1) Hillary’s obvious new face lift
2) There was no blood clot
3) Hillary’s new glasses called attention to the blood clot which didn’t exist but they also hid the last vestiges of the new face lift 
4) Barack’s new eyelift…just look at those eyebrows…not at all the old eyebrows

Well so okay…while the rest of the world is being vicious and mean and killing each other and everyone else in the most vicious and mean ways, our guys are lying about facelifts, reasons for hospitalizations and runs for prez in 2016. We’re really superior specimens, aren’t we?

Friday, January 25, 2013

David C. Headley in the News Again

This morning, an article in the New York Times (“Planner of Mumbai Attacks is Given a 35-Year Sentence”) reported that David C. Headley, aka Daood Gilani, was going to prison, but not for life, as one might have expected.

No surprise, Daood always was good at making deals. He’s 52 now, but when he and I bartended in his mom’s Khyber Pass North bar he was 23. That was in 1984.

He had pro-Shiite posters on the walls of his Second Street Philadelphia apartment and an arsenal of AK47’s. I saw them.

Daood’s mom, Serrill Headley, had to go to Pakistan with a shitload of money to get him out of jail the next year, 1985. He had been running drugs. Serrill told me this.

The thing that irritates me about Daood/David’s lenient prison sentence and about his terrorism is that the USA’s Drug Enforcement Agency made them possible.

The DEA is on record that it used David C. Headley as an informant. But the DEA says its relationship with Headley started in 1998. The DEA also says that Headley was convicted of drug trafficking in Pakistan in 1989. Both those dates are wrong and the DEA knows it.

Daood Gilani/David Headley became an informant in 1985. That’s how he got out of the Pakistani jail. Serrill’s bribe money was all well and good, but had the USA not stepped in, he would not have been freed for months. Serrill made a weekend trip to Pakistan and brought Daood back on a return flight.

The DEA has been willing to overlook David Headley’s terrorist activities in order to keep him as their informant. All the time that Headley was planning attacks against the USA in general and the Mumbai Attacks in particular, he was a DEA informant.

What on earth could the DEA have gotten from David Headley regarding drugs that could have been worth allowing him to continue his activities in the terrorist circles?

Yeah…this whole thing irritates me...alot.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why Church?

I got up this morning, a Sunday, decided not to go to church, and then, at the moment I would have been on my way to church any other Sunday, but today was still in my pajamas, I realized I was on Altar Guild this morning and someone was going to have to clean up the sacristy after mass. But it wouldn’t be me. And that would be a great inconvenience for many people.

And yes, mea culpa.

But what is the real problem here? It is true, next month I will be 82, and remembering things that have not been noted with a huge sign on my bedroom wall is increasingly difficult.

EXCEPT…I remember everything that is important to me. I remember to meet my friends to go grocery shopping. I remember to go to the liquor store. I remember to watch Project Runway and Burn Notice. I remember to buy cat food, kitty litter and toilet paper.

Why am I increasingly finding it not important to go to church? Why do I forget that I am on Altar Guild the second Sunday of the month, when I can remember my Social Security check is put in my bank account on the 3rd of every month?

Why is my relationship with God a constantly nurturing one, when my relationship with the Episcopal Church and my own church is a constantly irritating one?

I like quite a few of the people I commune with. But I also find quite a few of them to be do-gooding assholes. I like our Rector just fine, although in the four-and-a-half years I have been back in the Episcopal fold he has never had a meaningful conversation with me. I really love the Assistant Priest. She tries to pick up the pieces our Rector leaves strewn around because he tries to do too much in too many areas too much of the time. But even she can only do so much.

I love the whole Canon of the Mass. Our church has a wonderful choir and the music is truly celestial. I love the moment before we are invited to the altar, when the priest reminds us of Jesus’s words at the Last Supper. I love the act of taking communion.

WHY AM I NOT COMPELLED TO GO TO CHURCH?  Why do I not feel a terrible loss or yearning when I miss mass? Why do I not feel I must get out and walk those six-and-a-half blocks every day, even if it’s just to go to Evening Prayer? I wonder about that. Because I used to feel that compelling pull from my church. I felt it last year at this time. What has happened?

Or more to the point, what has not happened in the last few months? Last Spring I reconfirmed my confirmation. The meetings prior to that official act were inspiring.

What is missing now? God and I have a sit-down almost every day. He is so much a part of my life. Why is the church not a part of my life?

AHA! More to the point: Why am I not a part of the life of my church? Why does my church not need me? That’s a good question.