Bizarre Headline: “Big Pharma Blocks Imports of Generic AIDS Drugs” into Africa

January 25, 2013
Ocean

“Big Pharma” patrols the high seas in search of plunder and patent infringement.

This headline comes to us from the venerable Democracy Now! news hour of January 23, 2013:

“Fire in the Blood”: Millions Die in Africa After Big Pharma Blocks Imports of Generic AIDS Drugs

When I saw this headline rolling up my facebook feed as most shared from Democracy Now!, two thoughts hit me almost at once.

The first thought was that Democracy Now! is to be commended for bringing this monumental story to us. Millions of people are out there dying, and I haven’t heard boo about it from any other media source. This is standard fare. If you want to get the scoop, tune into Democracy Now!

To understand my second thought, you must realize that I am a libertarian Juris Doctor. As a law guy, I tend to take things rather literally. So upon encountering a headline alleging that Big Pharma is blocking imports of generic drugs, I promptly envision the private fleet of pirates that Pfizer and AstraZeneca must have hired to swashbuckle and maraud and pillage the vessels of competing merchants. I delighted in this anti-corporate progressive fantasy for about ten seconds before hypothesizing the reality:

“Big Pharma isn’t blocking anything,” I suspected. “I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that some government is blocking those imports at Big Pharma’s behest, and I’ll have to see the story to find out which one and why.”  Read the rest of this entry »


A Libertarian World Could Be More Colorful

July 28, 2012

All the colors of the rainbow, and then some.

People often ask what a libertarian world would look like. It’s impossible to say, and speculating can be problematic. Scott Morgan at DRCNet (aka StopTheDrugWar.org) famously observed:

It’s a terrible and frequent conundrum for reformers that if we accurately describe the behavior of our opposition, we end up sounding crazy.

He was speaking in the context of drug law reform, but the principle applies in many other cases of government command and control. For example, we all know about the tens of thousands of people the FDA has left to die by delaying the release of life-saving medicines. But what if I told you that, if not for the FDA, colorblindness would be curable? What if I told you further that, if not for the FDA, we might even have a procedure that could expand the spectrum of visible light, resulting in a world that is colorful beyond our present imagination? Would that sound crazy?

I’ll let Jay Neitz, professor of Opthamology at the University of Washington, and Jad Abumrad of WNYC’s Radiolab explain. Here is a passage from their May 21st episode entitled ColorsThe relevant part begins at 0:50, and the quoted passage below appears at 3:15:

JAD ABUMRAD: Now if this worked so well with the monkeys, couldn’t you take a colorblind human and give them back the thing they’re missing?
JAY NEITZ: Absolutely. We could cure colorblindness in a human with exactly this technique.
JAD: Really?
JAY: The only thing that we’d have to do is convince the FDA that the risks are low enough and the benefit is high enough that it’s something we can do in people.
JAD: Have you ever tried it?
JAY: No, we’ve never tried it. Although, I get a lot of e-mails that say, “I don’t care what the risks are.” I’ve even had offers: “How about if I come to your laboratory, and you don’t tell anybody, late at night, and you give me the shot in the eye, and we won’t tell anyone.”
JAD: Which brings us back to our original question: If you can take a colorblind human and give them normal color vision, could you take a normal color seer and boost them … [i.e. add additional color receptive cones to their retinas, thereby expanding the spectrum of visible color for them].
JAY [chuckles]: Well, yes. Yeah. …

JAD [speaking to the listener in the third-person]: He said, “Sure. Why not?” But then there’s the whole FDA thing … .

Here is a video of Neitz’s monkeys seeing new colors:  Read the rest of this entry »


Overdue Links for February 6, 2011: FDA regulates stem cells as drugs; Obama ignores marijuana questions; Krugman pooh-poohs austerity; others….

February 12, 2012

    "Hold it right there, mister. Are those stem cells 'safe and effective'?"

  1. Stem cells, like other medical products that are intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease, generally require FDA approval before they can be marketed. At this time, there are no licensed stem cell treatments.”

    The article links to the actual FDA opinion. Over/under: How many tens of thousands of people to you think will die unnecessarily while awaiting awaiting the FDA to approve this procedure?

  2. Death by bureaucracy.

  3. How will Obama dance around it tonight? Let’s find out….

  4. [I]t ought to be obvious to everyone that something is very wrong when this many people keep asking the same question and the president has nothing to say.

    Completely ignored this time. Not even laughed at. The amazing thing was that the top questions were all posted right under the video as it aired. The powers that be here did not even try to cover up the blaring silence.

  5. Paul Krugman here in full flower. Usually missing from these austerity-bashing editorials is some indication that the government either actually has, or can reasonably obtain, the money that they are supposed to spend to jump-start the economy. Where is this money cming from? I’m looking for something like this. The concern is usually dismissed, a la Kevin Drum, as a can that may be safely kicked down the road. I say, “No. Let’s talk about that ish right now!”

  6. Politically motivated expulsion of cameramen from a hearing room. Pretty lame.

  7. I hope this means we can forget about it by year’s end. Maybe 2013 will be the “Year of the Bhagavad Gītā”.

  8. Here in America, I’m pretty sure that the court would not touch a case like this due to Establishment Clause concerns. Personally, I would be satisfied with leaving a record that I was baptized as a baby, presumably without my consent, and that I had voluntarily chosen to leave the church. I ain’t in it to re-write my history and say that what had happened did not happen.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


Links for August 22, 2011: Obama on Medical Marijuana: “Herp derp, uh duuur.”; Krugman and Schiff on the Economic Benefits of Fake Space Alien Attacks; The FDA Protects Us From Cow Pee; others….

August 21, 2011
  1. Vodpod videos no longer available.

    Well, you know, a lot of states are making decisions about medical marijuana. As a controlled substance, the issue then is, you know, is it being prescribed by a doctor, as opposed to, you know — well — I’ll — I’ll — I’ll — I’ll leave it at that.

    There you have it, folks. That’s why medical marijuana is illegal at the federal level. Straight from the mouth of the President of the United States of America. I was debating a drug war supporter a few weeks ago who offered this rationale: “Actually, I’m not attempting to convince anyone. The laws that you don’t like are already in place. It’s you that needs to convince others. Not me.” Perhaps this is also the President’s position.

  2. Vodpod videos no longer available.

    This has been going on for years, not weeks. Remember 2008? But hey. At least Ron Paul was invited to the debate this time, unlike some other Gary Johnsons I know.

  3. Of course, Krugman is just using space invasion as an example.

    Absolutely. This is a great example of how foolish stimulus and war prosperity myths can be! Peter Schiff responds directly here: New York Times Breaking News: Superhero Paul Krugman Saves World from Imaginary AlienRead the rest of this entry »


Links for 2010-02-17: LAPD Harasses Sidewalk Food Vendors, Learn Marx’s Capital via Podcast, others….

February 18, 2010
  1. reason.tv | Taco Truck Takedown! Why is the LAPD harassing food carts?

    Forty-five days in jail for selling hot dogs? And you thought this was a "free" country…..

  2. LibriVox | Capital Volume 1 by Karl Marx

    The real deal? Das Kapital in a free audiobook podcast.

  3. David Harvey.org | Reading Marx's Capital

    Ooh! A 13-part video podcast on Das Kapital. Can't watch now, but my comments will surely follow! Read the rest of this entry »