Saturday, December 18, 2004

Pharma v. Reality

The pharmaceutical industry would have you believe, via their ads and drug reps in every hospital, that they are constantly innovating and discovering new, important medicines to help humanity. But in reality, they only look for the next Viagra: a blockbuster drug that will keep them afloat until they find the next sure-money winner.

According to the Times, "The number of new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration has declined sharply since the mid-1990's, falling from 53 in 1996 to 21 in 2003, even as the industry has nearly doubled its annual spending on drug development, to about $33 billion."

Supposedly the companies claim to have doubled their R&D budgets, but their marketing and lobbying budgets are still much bigger. For example, in Merck's (who has been the subject of all the bad Vioxx news) 2003 Annual Report, the company spent $10,710,200,000 on Marketing (with Administrative costs built in) while spending only $3,279,900,000 on Research and Development (I included their acquired R&D as well). That's about a 70-30 split on their costs.

Of course, this is only one company, but I bet if you look at the industry as a whole, the numbers are similar. And these companies wonder why they aren't finding any new hot drugs. Maybe it is because they are too worried about holding on to their market share and profits and less about true innovation. This despite the cozy relationship between the GOP-controlled congress, the Bush FDA, and big Pharma.

If I had my druthers, prescription drugs would be prohibited from advertising on TV (modeled after the rules for cigarettes), and their lobbying of doctors would similarly be severely curtailed. I have no troubles with advertising products like Advil, where each company is trying to keep its brand name awareness up and is in fierce competition with each other. But patients shouldn't be pushed into thinking they need more pills. Nor should doctors be pushed into giving out these pills if they a) aren't needed b) aren't safe c) more costly than drugs that work fine for the patient and are already out/gone generic.

On second thought, I think it would be fine if drug companies raise the public's awareness of their advances generally i.e. "Is your arthritis giving you trouble? Talk to your doctor today. There are many new and exciting products which can relieve your pain with just one pill a day and little side effects...." You get the idea. How about they spend 50% of their budget on R&D? That sounds reasonable, not that I would legislate that but I just feel it is wrong for them to whine when it is their own dumb decisions that placed them where they are today.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Stick a fork in me...

Cause I am done! That's right, last final was done at 5PM...well I turned it in early because I ran out of stuff to say. After that, I was in a mad dash to my fiancee's office party, where there was an open bar, hot wings, and burgers. They even had TVs in the urinals. Brilliant! Next, I went back to dress up more for the law school holiday party. First a pre-party at one of my friend's houses, a bit more intoxicatation....then off to the Sky Bar downtown. We danced, sweated, caught out drunken classmates before they fell on the ground and shouted "We've done" about a billion times. But boy did it feel great. One of my fiancee's college alumnae board members came with us and she had a great time too. It is too bad they allow smoking in clubs and bars. It really ruins the whole experience for me: I have to immediately wash my clothes and shower and get the sting out of my eyes. Plus, it smells and gives you cancer, but who's complaining? Not me.

Tomorrow I may wake up feeling a bit bad, but I earned this little excursion for all the work I have done this month. Now I just have Christmas shopping, Advent, and family Christmas parties to worry about. Plus the usual clean the car get groceries stuff. I have to say, I like my class. The people are great, kind, and very smart. If any of them are reading now, I would like to tell them they are all doing great and not to worry. After all, there is nothing you can do about it now anyway.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

SUU prof. fired for swearing

Southern Utah University Professor Stephen Roberts was fired for using the f-word in a heated class discussion Oct. 12 over a supreme court case. At the time, he appologized to the student and class, but he stupidly swore during his peer review process.

SUU students picked Roberds as their 2003-04 Professor of the Year. Last week he gave the Cedar City-based university's Grace A. Tanner Distinguished Faculty Lecture.

"We have gone through policies and procedures, and based on a variety of things, the decision was made that a contract for the 2005-06 academic year not be granted to Professor Roberds," said Dean Decker, dean of SUU's College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Decker sent Roberds a letter saying his contract with the southwest Utah school would not be renewed.

Dean Decker claims that Roberds' ouster had nothing to do with the tenure process or the professor's recent use of the obscenity during a classroom discussion. Yeah right.

Decker placed Roberds on paid administrative leave with full benefits for the next six months - the balance of his current contract, which ends on June 30, 2005, saying "He will not be teaching classes during the spring semester. We have fully credentialed faculty to teach the classes that Dr. Roberds was scheduled to teach."

While Cedar City is a conservative area, there just seems no justification for firing someone on such a frivilious charge. It seems he was a liberal in a conservative region and clashed with the administration. I haven't looked through the school's speech code but I seriously doubt that is something which a student would be let go for, let alone a professor. Hope he comes up to the U and teaches here or a more liberal school where he won't be afraid of speaking. I say, sue the a-holes (that was meant to be ironic)

Blog des Tages: Anonymous Law Professor

This means Blog of the Day:Anonymous Law Professor. I just find Deutsch a more effecient way of writing things some times, sorry.

Anyway this is a great blog. I wonder who this professor is and if mine really feels this way about us. Sample post:

My first-year students take my exam in the next few days. I don't want to say exactly when, but I promised them that if they e-mailed me by this evening, I'd answer their questions by mid-morning tomorrow.

Unfortunately for them, my tri-weekly professorial poker game got a little rowdy and I had too much to drink. There are now 28 e-mails in my law school in-box. I can't answer just a few and be fair to all, and well, I'm not going to answer them all. Anyway, by not responding, it'll teach them to figure out earlier in the term which concepts they don't understand.

So as I click delete, delete, delete, I can only help but think of those pretty von Trapps singing, So long, farewell, auf weidersehn, good bye...

Oh wait, I'll answer just this one; she's cute.

Funny, yet worrisome.

The biggest waste of money I can think of

Unsurprisingly, yet another balistic missile defense attempt failed yesterday. According to the LA Times, this boondoggle costs "$130 billion and is scheduled to tally $50 billion more over the next five years." Now before conservatives reading this say, "you are weak on defense!" I would like to point out that the cold war ended 15 years ago. There is no need to protect ourselves from ballistic missiles coming in from Russia and really not against China for another 20 years (maybe North Korea in 5-10 years but that's pretty generous). Also, is it not more cost effective to simply take away North Korea's nukes than to build the impossible machine?

The thing that really gets me about the whole thing is that this money could be better spent, even on the same purpose-- protecting our country from attack. Bin Laden and his friends are not going to hijack a missle silo, they are going to buy a warhead and smuggle it into Canada, Mexico, or the US, most likely via a ship containers since only 5% of them get checked. Then they can just drive into a big city (San Diego or Seattle, for example) and blow up the device. It won't kill as many people as a balistic missle would, but the point is to scare the sh*t out of us, not max out the number of dead people.

We could spend some of that 50 billion on protecting ex-USSR loose nukes, which will be secured at the current rate in the next 15 years. We could spend some of that money getting into North Korea and sabotoging their missile silos and nuclear fission thingies. Are they really stupid enought to try to attack us? Maybe they would try going for the South Koreans, but we would get the Chinese on board with such caldestine operations and are pretty good at reigning in their little buddies. And I bet we would still have money left over to buy more protective gear for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Plus, it doesn't work, and I have yet to read any scientist who believes it could work. Sure, my DLC friends say it is a good idea, and so do the people at the Penagon, but both are getting money and smoozing from the defense contractors, not exactly unbiased parties. Missle Defense is a religion among Reaganite GOPers (which is now most of them), you can't reason with them, but for the rest of you, it just makes no sense.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Well something happened to my computer the other day, I am still not sure what, and I was out for whole days running "check disk" and taking its sweet time about it. Finally, I took it down to the computer guys at the law school and after about 30 minutes they finally got my computer back out of its slumber. You never know how vital a thing is until you don't have it. And I was about to poop my pants because I had all the answers I had writen to half of my Contract test on this little guy, which is like a day's worth of work. Plus, it had my professor's sort-of-helpful comments to them so I knew what to do next (in theory). Man, am I ever greatful for the tech guys in the basement. Now I am on an uninstalling spree.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Its the new Win! Democrats have finally embraced reform in their rhetoric, now it is time to see if their DNC chair and platform will match it.

The DLC's Ed Kilgore has some starters that Democrats from all sides can agree on (and so should Republicans like McCain, Lugar, etc.) He names Election Reform (a real Help American Vote Act), Redistricting Reform (no more protectionism), and Ethics and Lobbying Reform (deep six the K Street project).

Now I agree with all of those but I think we need to go further on Election reform: Federalize the elections. No more 2 million different ways to vote with incompetent volunteers, etc. American politicans talk a good game when it comes to how much they value democracy, but we spend money on it like it is an unwanted, illegitimate child who just showed up from Vietnam (appologies to David Sedaris). There should be one system, controlled by a FEC with teeth and real administrators (not party hacks). Recounts should not be county by county, state by state, but federally done (via one recount and contest law for all federal elections). I don't care if these poll workers are unionized, but it might help in terms of their competence.

While we are at it, let's have real Intelligence Reform, Procurement reform(Why don't we have enough flack jackets? But plenty of B1 bombers), Government Accounting and Spending reform (Missle Defense and the Army Corps of Engineers, GAO, etc.), Tax reform (make it more progressive and simplier) We should be getting good ideas from the states and building them into our platform.

Think of how well McCain and Perot did, there is a huge "The government needs reform" constituency out there. Let's have at it.

Joe-pen Senate Seat?

It looks like everyone's favorite loser is considering being the head of Joe-land security. Or at least the Bush Administration is trying to save face with that last implosion and do some more campaign oriented stratego. After all, AP reports are saying CT Gov. Jodi Rell (R) would appoint a GOPer (even though she won't even commit to that), presumably Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-05) "to fill the last two years of Lieberman's term." The line up on the Democratic side is pretty weak since they can't kick out sitting congressmen or beat Johnson even when both are incumbents.

CT AG Richard Blumenthal (D)is already chomping at the bit He said a Lieberman appointment would "change the political landscape here in Connecticut by opening a Senate seat. Certainly I would have an interest in it. But we'll have to wait and see what happens in Washington." Blumenthal called it a "very exciting and promising opportunity for the country because he (Lieberman) would be such a great secretary for Homeland Security." Flattery won't get you an endorsement, dork.

I wish these guys would focus on Rell and the house. Almost any schmuck can be a democratic senator from CT, just ask the other one.

In other Washington news, I had the biggest laugh today when George W. Bush have the Congressional medal of Freedom to George "Slam Dunk" Tenant, Paul "who needs an Iraqi Army" Bremmer, and ex-Gen. Tommy "I spoke at the GOP convention but I am not partisan" Franks. The funniest part was when MSGOP was saying "The White House does not want to focus on what some have called these men's 'mistakes' but want to concentrate on their lifelong service to this country."

Their mistakes are pretty grave: George Tenant gave waffling supporters of the war something to hang their hat on (after all if the head of the CIA says there's weapons there, it's gotta be true right?) and gave Bush the justification he needed to launch this war of choice. Paul Bremer managed to do an even worse job as administrator of Iraq than that Lt. Gen. they had in there, leading to more insurgents with more training and weapons and more dead American soldiers and more captives.

Gen. Franks' sins are just as severe. He should have tried to talk Bush out of two wars at once, but he would have gotten fired at a time they needed him finishing the job in Afghanistan (I guess he didn't do that either). Franks should been more insistent on more troops and a real post-war plan, instead of going back to the drawing board whenever Rumsfeld complained the war plan did not fit with this new conception of warfare.

Of course, he is a Army man and is trained to follow the orders of the civilian leadership so he would have been going against decades of training to fight back. But then again, General Clark did it when he thought the war in Kosovo needed Apache helicopters and ground troops etc. He went around the E-Ring and straight to Sandy Burger and even tried to get in with President Clinton. This is the real reason he got retired early in April of 2000. Clark got the medal of Freedom by Clinton after his retirement, partly because Clinton felt bad that he was conned into approving Clark's retirement.

Those three men are the epitome of what public service is about to Bush: sycophancy. If you agree with the man, no matter how wrong or what road it leads down, you are a hero to him. It also helps to take a bullet or two for him, like Tenet did. I hate to break it to W., but this is a democracy and these people are supposed to be serving the country, not the GOP and you as the president come second to the people. These men served you first, us last, and it showed: you got reelected and Iraq is in the toilet.

Monday, December 13, 2004

What NOT to get me for christmas

'Nuff said

2 down...

Thanks Charley for the words of support after the last test. Now, I only my terrible contracts class. Paperwight, you were right that was more to Kerik's to drop out than a Nanny exuse. But I stand by my statement that it is lame to dismiss canidates because they hired a nanny, or even took bribes from the mob. The was unqualified and when he had a similar security job, he failed miserably. That is why he was unfit for the appointment.

The real end result of the news is that Rudy G. will have to work that much harder to get the GOP nomination in 2008. Because he cashed in all his chips with Bush on this one, even if he didn't mean to do so.