Pills, shills, and the barbarians to the North

It always struck me as odd, the Bush administration’s vehement opposition to the reimportation of American-made pharmaceuticals from Canada, where they are often available for as little as half the U.S. price. The administration cites “safety concerns” as the reason it blocks Americans from buying drugs from other countries… a truly absurd notion when we’re talking about Canada for christsake.

Yeah sure, Canadians are technically foreigners… in the same way that the Scottish aren’t British and the Taiwanese aren’t Chinese. But to paint Canadians as “the other” is kind of like saying that North Dakotans are somehow less Dakotan than South Dakotans. I mean, let’s be honest… here in Seattle, we have a helluva lot more in common, culturally and politically, with our neighbors in Vancouver, British Columbia than with our fellow countrymen in say, Columbia, South Carolina.

It is thus laughable to “protect Americans” from half-priced statins, while a truly noxious Canadian import like Alan Thicke is permitted to freely cross the border.

Like most Democrats, I had simply dismissed the Republicans’ hard stance on Canadian drug reimportation as payback for millions of dollars in political contributions from a U.S. pharmaceutical industry eager to protect its huge profit margins. But recent events have suggested an ulterior, more devious motive.

Pharmacists across the nation are now refusing to fill prescriptions for morning-after pills and other forms of birth control, saying that dispensing such medications violates their personal religious beliefs.

An increasing number of clashes are occurring in drugstores across the country. Pharmacists often risk dismissal or other disciplinary action to stand up for their beliefs, while shaken teenage girls and women desperately call their doctors, frequently late at night, after being turned away by sometimes-lecturing men and women in white coats.

“There are pharmacists who will only give birth control pills to a woman if she’s married. There are pharmacists who mistakenly believe contraception is a form of abortion and refuse to prescribe it to anyone,” said Adam Sonfield of the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, which tracks reproductive issues. “There are even cases of pharmacists holding prescriptions hostage, where they won’t even transfer it to another pharmacy when time is of the essence.”

That is what happened to Kathleen Pulz and her husband, who panicked when the condom they were using broke. Their fear really spiked when the Walgreens pharmacy down the street from their home in Milwaukee refused to fill an emergency prescription for the morning-after pill.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Pulz, 44, who with her husband had long ago decided they could not afford a fifth child. “How can they make that decision for us? I was outraged. At the same time, I was sad that we had to do this. But I was scared. I didn’t know what we were going to do.”

Legislatures in twelve states have already passed or are considering passage of “conscience clauses” to protect pharmacists who refuse to dispense medication they find personally objectionable. In many areas of rural America, where a trip to the next closest pharmacy might entail a 100-mile drive, this exercise of conscience on the part of the pharmacist can effectively trump the medical decision of doctor and patient. And with giant retailer Wal-Mart displacing small town pharmacies throughout the nation, millions of Americans could find their access to birth control and other medications resting in the hands of a single corporation… a corporation that has already proven itself sympathetic to, and easily cowed by, pressures from the extreme, religious right.

Make no mistake… the right-wing Christian fundamentalists who have seized control of the Republican leadership are not only intent on outlawing abortion, but most, if not all forms of birth control as well. And so it occurred to me… what is the use of limiting access to birth control in this country, if it can be easily purchased from our neighbors to the North?

Now some might think it a paranoid reach for me to conjecture that the current ban on reimportation of drugs from Canada is somehow connected to the religious right’s war on birth control. But it would be naive to believe that the Dobsons and Perkins and DeLays of this world aren’t at least as devious as me. It is hard to say to what degree the right’s moral agenda drives its unshakeable opposition to drug reimportation, but you can be sure that the thought has certainly crossed their minds. These are people, after all, who have shown themselves to be exceedingly imaginative at devising ways to impose their world view on others.

And so, while Bush is clearly a shill for the pharmaceutical industry, it is fair to wonder if there is more to his firm opposition to drug reimportation than meets the eye. This is a religious war… and as in all wars, it is of paramount importance to secure one’s own borders.

Comments

  1. 1

    prr spews:

    So…

    Would the same argument are proposing for Bush also apply for Gregoire & Unions in Washington State?

  2. 2

    Janet S spews:

    Can you get a little more paranoid? Or is this another of your satires? I can’t always tell.

    The reason not to import drugs from Canada (or the reason why we should) is because Canada is being subsidized by the US consumer. The US consumer is paying the full price of production PLUS research. The rest of the world benefits from this research, but weasels out of paying for it by negotiating big contracts at low prices.

    That means if we buy from Canada, we are only depriving the drug companies of their research money. That’s really bright. Drugs aren’t free, and the FDA makes it incredibly more expensive than necessary to get a drug to market.

    I for one enjoy the results of advancements made in the drug industry. My preference is that all these free-loader countries start paying their fair share. Maybe if we buy enough from Canada, they will have to pay a premium to replace their inventories, and thus forcing up the price for everyone.

  3. 3

    Eric L spews:

    First of all, research is an insignificant fraction of the cost of drugs in the US. Also, drug company funded research is producing little in the way of new drugs but mostly variations of existing drugs. We do pay for research that the rest of the world benefits from, but we pay for it with our tax dollars which get sent to federal grants to researches in our universities — this is where new drugs and medical procedures come from.

    So what are we paying for that Canadians aren’t? A third of the cost is advertising (why the need to so heavily advertise products you should really only be taking at a doctor’s recommendation?) and our drug companies enjoy 17% profit margins that are just unheard of in any other industry.

    That said, importation from Canada really isn’t the way to go, mainly because the Canadians won’t allow it — they are in fact very concerned that it would affect the cost of drugs for them if they started supplying a significant portion of the drugs for a country much larger than them. They are prepared to ban exporting drugs to the US if we allow importing drugs from Canada.

    Drug costs are rising much faster than inflation — that’s for existing drugs as well as new ones — and it’s not because they’re getting more expensive to make, nor are drug companies spending any more on research. The simple fact is we are paying more and not getting any more for it, and any objective look at the costs and where that money is going will verify that. I don’t see any good free-market solutions to this, so if it is a problem that needs to be solved (and I think it does) we need to either start enacting price controls or at the very least allow Medicare/Medicaid to negotiate drug prices the way private insurers can.

  4. 4

    smoke spews:

    Cananda has already stated that the drugs they have is for Canadians and have no interest in selling them to the U.S.

    Drugs are ALSO cheap there because the gov’t runs the price of drugs. This is why some OTC drugs there are more expensive than here. The converse is ‘scripts are cheaper which is the only aspect of this the MSM talks about.

    If the healthcare system is so good there, how come so many Canadians come here for services?

    Evil drug companies? Would someone please tell me how many/much FREE drugs to these companies routinely give to community health organizations?

  5. 5

    Nelson spews:

    Interestingly enough, ALL of the arguments cited in your post, Goldy, as well as the first four posters here, are all true, in whole or in part.

    Everyone seems to have part of the story right. But everyone also has part of the story wrong. On the one hand, the US is certainly not the highest priced country in the world regarding prescription drugs. Japan is first and Switzerland is second. The US, I believe, holds third place, although on many drugs, Germany is a higher priced country, as well.

    Second, in Canada, each province has its own formulary — or Rx drugs that are approved with specific pricing. So that some prescription drugs might be available in Ontario or BC and not available in Quebec, or vice versa. And if they are available, they might be sold at different prices in each province.

    Third, there is absolutely NO safety issue relating to drugs purchased from Canada, or the EU or a variety of other countries since the FDA maintains international manufacturing plant inspections for production of any and every US approved Rx drug. So if you were a drug manufacturer that had an FDA-approved drug and wanted to manufacturer it in, say, Bangladesh, your plant would be subject to FDA quality control standards and inspections. The two largest single manufacturing locations, if my memory is right, of US-approved prescription drugs are Puerto Rico and Ireland (due to favorable tax issues for the companies). So the drugs sold in Canada are just as likely to have been made in Puerto Rico or Ireland under full FDA standards as any drug that is sold in the US.

    As for the costs of R&D, the US National Institutes of Health, with US tax dollars, is by far the world’s largest supporter of early stage biomedical research. Virtually all of its funding goes to university-based researchers, and it supports that research ALL OVER THE WORLD! The Max Planck Institute in Germany or the Weizmann Institute in Israel or the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have just as much chance or opportunity to get an NIH grant for a high quality research project as would Harvard or Stanford Medical School right here in the US.

    Once a product is made and patented, however, the onus for costs of development — mainly animal and human clinical trials — all falls on the entity, usually a drug or biotech company, that holds the patent rights.

    THAT is the cost of new drug research that the industry always talks about and, while it is indeed hugely expensive and risky and very time consuming, the rewards to the company are immense and easily cover the costs of all of the failed products that they spend money on. And that would largely continue to be true whether the unit sales are made in lower price areas such as Canada or many EU countries, or higher price areas of the world such as Japan, Switzerland, Germany or the US.

    As for the real reason why the Bush Administration seems to have dug in its heels on the importation issue from Canada? Frankly, as one who does know a lot about the pharmaceutical industry and its economics, it has been puzzling to me. I’m not sure about Goldy’s thesis about the anti-abortion crowd, since the drug industry hates them as much as we do (think about the religious kooks opposition to many types of drugs & the pharmacist issue that costs the companies money, as well as the intense opposition to stem cell research which could be one of the true future economic bonanzas for the drug industry). If Bush was doing the bidding of the anti-abortion crowd, the drug industry would hate him for it. On the other hand, if he was doing the bidding for the drug industry, the anti-abortion crowd would hate him for it as well.

    My own personal view is that he’s doing it just because it was an idea from Democrats and his knee-jerk reaction is to oppose anything that comes from Democrats, whether the idea makes sense, or not.

  6. 6

    chardonnay spews:

    Goldy, you are so right. It’s like saying people in Seattle are exactly like people in Enumclaw or Carnation even though they are in the same county.
    take a pill and lets split king county.

  7. 7

    chardonnay spews:

    and according to the L.A. Times, you liberals are going to need some medication. prozak especially. Do they make a generic brand that’s cheaper? I don’t think valium is the way to go, so addictive I heard. HEY…I got it!!!! There is not enough support groups to help you thru the election contest right? How about making ‘drinking liberally’ night therapy night? group hugs, share ideas, natural stress methods etc. I’m here for you if you need to talk.

    http://www.latimes.com/feature.....;cset=true

  8. 8

    Nindid spews:

    Smoke @4 Nice straw man… you are the only one to use ‘evil’ here. They are not ‘evil’ the drug companies are merely acting as a good capitalists should by milking the system for every bit of profit they can. In the vast majority of places in society this works out quite nicely, but it does not work everywhere. We don’t do this with the military, we don’t do this with police or fire, and I don’t think we should do it with basic health care. People’s lives should not be decided on for corporate profit.

    Now the devil is in the details and I am willing to listen to all proposals on how to fix it, but merely pointing out that Canada has some problems is not going to do it.

  9. 9

    Alan Thicke spews:

    Again and again and again, your stilted world view fails to pass muster.

    Rotary – Elimination of Polio.
    Kiwanis – Elimination of Iodine Deficiency
    Merck – Eleminination of River Fever
    Pfizer – HIV/AIDS Prevention Initiative
    Eli Lilly – $273 million in corporate philanthropy.

    You can kick and scream about pharmaceutical companies all you want, but isn’t it nice to know that the correct medicine will be manufactured with stringent safeguards and will be available when your life is on the line?

    What are you going to do except complain?

  10. 10

    Janet S spews:

    Thank you, but I prefer to let the free market control the drug industry rather than government. Last time I looked, the UK and Canada weren’t producing a lot of medical breakthroughs. Or France. And I wouldn’t want to get sick in any of those socialized medicine havens. Heck, even the rich and powerful from Canada are smart enough to come here.

    Socialized medicine doesn’t work, just like it doesn’t in any other area tried. If we treated individuals in the insurance market to the same tax treatment as companies, and encouraged people to get their own insurance, a lot of this dislocation would go away. Right now the system is not a free market – a third party controls your access and payments.

  11. 11

    David spews:

    Don’t these conservatives have anything to do other than read your Blog, Goldy? I can’t believe they are defending the drug companies; I guess it’s kind of a knee-jerk thing. If the Democrats are for it, they are against it. What can you expect from people who believe the earth was created in 7 days? homesteadbook.com

  12. 12

    Nindid spews:

    Janet @10 So do you believe that we should run the military, police and fire fighting on the free market? It has been tried too with rather disastrous results. The fact is that as a country we have generally chosen to make matters of protecting the lives of the people a government concern precisely because the profit motives of a few do not equate to the needs of the commuinty. This is not to say that people can’t hire their own extra security protection or install their own equipment to provide additional safety. No problem here… but protecting the lives of its citizens has to be a core government fuction.

  13. 13

    Eric L spews:

    Janet,

    And in how many of those countries you would never want to get sick in does the population live longer than we do? We have the world’s 24th longest life expectancy. We’re just ahead of Cuba, that’s how good our health is. Granted, this isn’t all the health care system, but if people in socialized systems are living longer than we are and paying less, just how bad could these systems be?

    As for making insurance more individual, I can see how this could help with the cost of drugs but it could also hurt with the cost of insurance. Insurance and individual choice don’t really go well together for a reason known in economics as adverse selection. Basically because you have a better idea of how healthy you are (or how prone to car accidents, for another example) than the insurance industry does, you will want to pick a plan where you expect to get back more than you pay, or maybe just not bother. Thus the costs of a car insurance plan are determined by the most accident prone drivers who would buy that plan, and the costs of a health plan are determined by those in the poorest health, because everyone else would find it too expensive and look for less coverage. This is part of the reason why most states require a minimum amount of car insurance (it keeps the price down) (it’s also the idea behind a proposal Arnold made to require everyone to buy health insurance) and this is in fact the main reason why health insurance companies prefer to insure groups of people rather than individuals. It’s also a reason I’m opposed to privatizing Medicare/Medicaid, as these people would then end up getting insured as individuals.

  14. 14

    Janet S spews:

    Nindid @12
    So is eating, but I don’t want to socialize the food industry.

    Protecting people from criminals and foreign enemies isn’t quite the same as removing all freedom of choice from the medical industry. There is a place for a safety net, but I sure don’t think it is my job to provide a doctor for Bill Gates. Let him hire his own.

    Socialized medicine will inevitably result in rationing and poorer delivery. All doctors have to meet minimum requirements. If also want mine to see me at a moments notice and have pretty goldfish in the office, and I’m willing to pay for it, what difference does it make to you?

    If the gov’t gets to decide, I have to wait in the same line as the above mentioned Bill Gates. But, he has better things to do with his time than wait in a doctor’s office – like generate wealth to shareholders.

    Also, if gov’t decides, then doctors gets paid what the gov’t decrees. You can bet it won’t be much, and the next really smart guy who would have gone to medical school will now become a lawyer instead. The gov’t can dictate what you are paid, but they can’t demand you practice medicine. The smart ones won’t, if they are rewarded for it. Really want the corner gas station attendant operating on your heart?

  15. 15

    Janet S spews:

    By the way, the Cuba comparison is bogus. They don’t count a birth unless it is live. We do, and so all those premies get factored into our birth rate, whether they live or not. Cuba just lets them die, which is a good old communist doctrine.

    Like always, anyone can lie with statistics.

  16. 16

    spyder spews:

    Nelson left out one salient point that Janet might find interesting. Two of the four largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, numbers one and three are based in Great Britain and Germany. Their contributions, in terms of actual lost revenue or profit, to various WHO and other projects in providing cheaper(not free) vaccines and anti-biotics are not that large. If you are really interested please access one of their own websites and read through the texts and date of their yearly financial reports; they are replete with every possible penny of revenue and expenditure. Taking a cross section of the top five companies, on average, yearly profits equal and/or exceed advertising expenditures, and are invariably twice as large as the expenditures for R&D.

    Likewise, the failure of drugs to be safe for use in all cases is part and parcel of doing business for them. When A Thicke satirically asks: “What are you going to do except complain?” he must know that several formulations owned and registered to pharmaceutical companies have been made litigation free by amendments to appropriations bills in Congress that were added at the last possible moment. I can’t imagine why Big Pharma would want to be free from being held accountable if all their medication were safe and well formulated and well crafted with every single users life in mind?

    As for Goldy’s thesis, i’m not sure why they would oppose importation unless the profit margin is too lean. Using Thicke’s numbers that $273 million in giving by Eli Lilly is approximately one-fourth the value of the Ether they manufacture that is used in South America for cocaine production; nice giving and taking.

  17. 17

    dj spews:

    Nelson @ 5

    Thank you for the very thoughtful post filled with many helpful insights. I do have to add a footnote to one thing you said, however. You said:

    “Virtually all of its funding goes to university-based researchers, and it supports that research ALL OVER THE WORLD! The Max Planck Institute in Germany or the Weizmann Institute in Israel or the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have just as much chance or opportunity to get an NIH grant for a high quality research project as would Harvard or Stanford Medical School right here in the US.”

    The first part correct. About 77% of NIH research grant funding goes to U.S. academic institutions, and about 22% goes to other domestic institutions (hospitals, non-profits, research centers). Only about 1% of all NIH research grants go to foreign institutions. In terms of dollars, only 0.7% of total NIH research dollars go to foreign institutions.

    It is not true that foreign institutions “have just as much chance … to get an NIH grant for a high quality research project as would [US research institutions]” One reason is because applications from foreign institutions have additional hurdles beyond the standard scientific review criteria. Specifically, NIH evaluates whether the project “presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions in other countries that are not readily available in the United States or that augment existing U.S. resources.” and “has specific relevance to the mission and objectives of the [Institute] and has the potential for significantly advancing the health sciences in the United States.”

    In other words, there must be a good reason why the work is done at a foreign institute rather than a U.S. institute.

    Additionally, foreign institutions are severly limited by the amount of “overhead” they can charge on a grant. Most U.S. academic institutions will get on the order of 50% overhead. Foreign institutions are limited to 8%, I believe.

    (This information is summarized form various pages at http://www.nih.gov).

  18. 18

    Goldy spews:

    David @11,

    Yeah… isn’t the attention I get from righties kind of odd? I don’t know for sure that any of my trolls are professional trolls, but apparently the right-wing has so much money they actually hire people to troll the liberal blogs, trying to disrupt the debate.

    Notice how they avoid discussing the real issue here? Right-wing Christian fundamentalists want to deny Americans access to birth control. Instead, the trolls want to spout the same old bullshit about “socialized medicine.”

  19. 19

    Janet S spews:

    I figured your right wing Christian fundamentalist rant was another of your satires, so I just ignored it as kind of stupid. If that makes me a troll, then I guess that’s life.

    I’m trying to figure out how a small group of religiously inclined politicians will muster the support to pass anything as ridiculous as what you propose. A few pharmicists morally opposed to the morning after pill is hardly the cataclismic event you seem to think. OH NO – IT’S WAL MART! RUN! BEFORE IT EATS US ALL!

  20. 20

    Alan spews:

    Janet S @ 2

    What the U.S. consumer is subsidizing is obscene profits. You don’t REALLY believe U.S. drug companies are selling their products to Canadians at a loss, do you dearie? If so, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you …

  21. 21

    enough_of_this_bullshit spews:

    Goldy,

    Obviously, you don’t know shit about the Drug industry.
    This is just liberal bull shit that has no basis in fact. John Kerry made a big deal out of this during his campaign. But he really didn’t know what he was talking about. Just about any canadian citizen will tell you that they don’t want to sell medications to the US.

    Canada only buys about 2% of the medications produced by US. Drug companies. The drug companies have clauses in their contracts with the canadian government that says that after they purchase the 2% limit the Drug Companies will allow them only 0.5% more before they will start charging them the full rate that the US pays. What? you thought Kerry was smarter than the drug companies? give me a break. That was just political bullshit that he knew he couldn’t deliver on. (Remember Cantwell’s promise about lowering the drug costs for seniors….another hoot.)

    Some pharmacies in this state control their formularies. They don’t believe in selling the “morning after pill” So they don’t carry it. Deal with it. You can’t get the MAP at children’s hospital.does that mean they are controlled by Republicans? Look around there are a lot of pharmacies that have never carried it and never will. And no one has the right to tell them they have to carry it.

    Also watch in the very near future, drug stores will stop selling sudafed. don’t believe me? It’s legal in this state to sell some cough syrups with codeine over the counter without prescriptions. All you have to do is produce ID and sign for it. Do you know who many drug stores still allow that practice? to my knowledge none. the paperwork is overwhelming. It’s easier not to sell it. That gonna happen to sudafed…starting in July. A least you’ll have three months to find something else to use before the cold season starts

  22. 22

    Alan spews:

    Would be interesting to see chardonnay’s Rx list. I’ve already got an idea of which meds she’s on.

  23. 23

    Alan spews:

    Janet S @ 10

    What free market? There is no free market in drugs, except generics. The non-generics are patented and produced by only one supplier. Where there isn’t a generic substitute, there’s no price competition at all.

  24. 24

    Alan spews:

    Janet S @ 14

    You are being downright silly, dearie. I don’t think you’ll ever have to worry about providing a doctor for Bill Gates. He pays quite a bit more taxes than you do.

  25. 25

    zapporo spews:

    Goldy – The going rate is 5 cents per word. In case you haven’t noticed, many of my more recent posts are quite verbose. Thanks for helping me send my daughter to college.

  26. 26

    Janet S spews:

    Alan @ 22

    If the drug has been produced in the last year, it probably isn’t available in Canada. That’s a downside also not mentioned.

    I don’t believe the drug companies are selling to Canada at a loss, if you are just looking at cost of production. Once that is covered, the rest is covering development cost. That’s why they all advertise – the marginal sale generates volume to cover tomorrow’s breakthrough.

    You’re right – there isn’t price competition for new drugs. These are the property of those that spent the millions (billions) to bring them to market. If you don’t like it, go with the older generation cure.

  27. 27

    Alan spews:

    Janet S @ 25

    Actually I’m a pretty lousy customer — I buy about $10 of a generic antibiotic every 5 years. Lately, Big Pharma seems to be concentrating its inventive genius and production resources on sex-enhancing drugs, which should make a lot of limp Repugs happy.

  28. 28

    scottd spews:

    If the drug has been produced in the last year, it probably isn’t available in Canada. That’s a downside also not mentioned.

    How is that a downside? If a drug isn’t available in Canada, I suppose one would just buy it in the U.S.

    Once again, what’s wrong with letting the free market work by letting me buy my drugs wherever I want? If drug companies are gouging beyond the amount they need to earn a decent profit and develop new products, this would help reduce prices. On the other hand, if consumers in other countries aren’t paying enough, free access to their markets would drive prices up there and end the “freeloading problem”, if one exists.

    That’s how it works with other products — why the special treatment for drugs?

  29. 29

    Goldy spews:

    Enough @21,

    I don’t know shit about the drug industry? That’s funny… ’cause I didn’t say shit about the drug industry, now did I? But thanks for correcting me on all things I didn’t say.

    (Actually, I know quite a bit about the pharmaceutical industry and the Bush administrations adamant refusal to let Medicare negotiate for best pricing the health systems in the rest of the world, and the private sector do. But I’ll save that for another time.)

  30. 30

    Nelson spews:

    “If you don’t like it, go with the older generation cure.”

    Uh, Janet, last time I looked the patient didn’t make the choice of the medication to use. It was the physician.

    Now, if the doctor tells you, there are two drugs available. One is an older version and the other is a newer product, and he feels strongly that the newer medication will be better for you. He then is honest and says that the newer one will, however, cost a lot more.

    Which one are you, as the patient, likely to tell the doctor you want — if he even gives you a choice?

    I know, following through on your logic, you’d always say, “Gee, doc, I don’t care if the older drug may not work as well, or may give me some additional side effects, I definitely want you to prescribe that older medicine for me, because I want to save a few bucks.”

    Sure you will. I rest my case.

  31. 32

    Nelson spews:

    dj @17

    You are indeed mostly correct on your statistical data. However, it is incorrect in the real world of NIH biomedical research grants. Many, many grant applications are made with a primary researcher being a scientist at a US institution, with backup work on the grant being done at a collaborating foreign institution.

    Statistically, if the lead scientist on the grant application was an American scientist, that would go into NIH’s books as a “domestic” grant even though a large percentage — in many instances the majority — of the funds are going to support work done on the grant at overseas research centers. Also, in many instances, US scientists are doing visiting research work at foreign centers of excellence and they file the grants under their US institutional appointment even though they’re working full-time abroad.

    If they are high quality and widely published peer reviewed scientists of stature, they will get the grant regardless of where the work will actually be done.

    I do confess that I don’t know how the overhead charge is treated in these “hybrid” US/foreign grants. I do know that a few years ago, some major US academic centers — Stanford medical school comes to mind — got into trouble with the NIH over abuse of their overhead charges. I’m not sure what the upshot of that uproar actually was.

  32. 33

    headless lucy spews:

    The pharmaceutical industry basically rides free on the R&D from the NIH and other tax funded laboratories. “The govt. provides basically half the billions spent on drug research and takes the big risks by developing the basic compounds and breakthrough discoveries.” (William Greider,p. 282 in, The Soul of Capitalism)That’s the facts, Jack. You can interpret them any way you like, although I suspect it will not make Conservative argument any easier.

  33. 35

    Stop their CATerwauling, spay/neuter ALL Pet Libs spews:

    Why Drugs Cost So Much
    http://www.medicinenet.com/scr.....ekey=18892

    Drug Companies Give Products For Free but Don’t Publicize It
    http://www.wishdocs.com/drug%2.....20free.htm

    This is a list of 181 companies that have programs for free or reduced cost drugs and how to apply for them.
    http://www.johnmayo.com/drug.htm

    Yeah, those damned evil drug companies. Cut the pigs off…
    but remember this too:
    “A global R&D treaty, in which the profits of pharmaceutical companies are heavily taxed and their intellectual property rights undermined, would be almost certain to have the unintended consequence of effectively turning off the tap of innovation that is essential to dealing with the world’s changing health problems.” That would hurt the rich, but it would hurt the world’s poor even more.

  34. 36

    Alan spews:

    Janet S @ 26

    If it’s not available in Canada yet, it hasn’t killed any Canadians yet. That’s not a downside. I’m sure our Canadian friends are happy to let us be the guinea pigs.

  35. 39

    Alan spews:

    Actually, I’m not all that impressed with the drug industry. When was the last time they produced a cure for anything? Drugs haven’t reduced the need for surgical treatment. Today’s heavily advertised blockbuster drugs are to keep the sexual fires burning; yesterday’s were glorified aspirins for temporary relief of arthritis pain (until they were pulled off the market as too dangerous). The truly worthwhile drugs — vaccines — you can’t even get because nobody wants to make them because there’s not enough profit in it. The drug industry is nothing but a profit center for shareholders.

  36. 41

    chardonnay spews:

    don @ 22
    Thank you for caring about me. you can sleep well tonight knowing that I only take advil once in a while. I have no need to drink or take drugs because I am a person that lives in the real world. I don’t libve in a dream world like liberals. I understand how horrible it must be for you to realize that your vision of a perfect world is mere fantasy.
    You know not the truth. If I were you I would also need to drink liberally every night. Sad.

  37. 42

    Jay Leno spews:

    A woman brought her pet duck to a veterinarian. She carefully laid the limp bird on the examination table, and the vet listened to its chest with his stethoscope. After a couple of minutes, he shook his head and said, “I’m sorry, but your duck has expired.”
    The woman cried, “Are you sure?
    “Yes, I’m sure, ” the vet replied. “Your duck is dead.”
    “How can you be so sure?” the woman demanded. “You haven’t even done any testing on him. He might be in a coma.”
    The vet left the room, then returned a short time later with a Labrador Retriever.
    The dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table, and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He looked at the vet with sad brown eyes, and shook his head.
    The vet patted the dog and took it out, and returned with a gray cat.
    The cat jumped up on the table and sniffed the bird from head to foot, shook its head, meowed, and strolled out of the room.
    The vet told the woman, “I’m sorry, but this is a 100% certified dead duck.”
    Then the vet hit a few keys on his computer, waited for the bill to print, and handed it to the woman.
    The read the bill and cried out, “$150 just to tell me my duck is dead?!”
    The vet shrugged. “If you’d taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but since you insisted on a Lab Report and a Cat Scan, I have to charge you $150.00.”

  38. 43

    headless lucy spews:

    Why are you so dead-set on giving tax money to huge international drug cartels, but when the butchers at Wal-Mart want to organize you are screaming “foul”.? Why do you read simplistic crap by that fat pimp “Dr.” Michael Savage and the phone sex addict Bill O’Reilly and then criticise a fine journalist like William Greider? Why don’t you read some books with substance and quit boring everyone with crap that you’ve found on the internet that supports your severely twisted biases? Read a book yourself and stop gaming everyone with your GOOGLEIZED childish rah, rah free enterprise crap. I’ll bet you smoke dope, but you’ll never admit it.

  39. 44

    chardonnay spews:

    Jay Leno,
    that is exactly what happen to Don’s wife when she took him in after a ‘drinking liberally’ night, he was in a black out again. Well, could have been any night. I keep telling him to lay off the hard stuff but does he take my advice? noooooooooo. One of these days it’s the hospice for him. You can’t expect that poor woman to take that much crap. eventually she’s gonna snap.

  40. 45

    Jon spews:

    Goldy,

    Look directly on your right, and you will see Stefan sitting next to you in crazy person land. I don’t know what you are ingesting lately, but it must be something powerful to induce such hallucinations. In regards to your “central” question, I’ll point you to a great post by Jon Henke here which expresses what I’ve believed for over 10 years. A hopefully short quote:

    “I’m simply not persuaded by the argument that there is a burgeoning “Theocracy” in the United States. You can tell the Social Conservatives are losing by the very battles they are fighting. Almost without exception, they are doing rear-guard duty. I mean, we’ve got partial nudity on prime-time television, and gay marriage on the radar.

    That’s one hell of a long way from the 1940s-50s, where even married TV characters had separate beds, and the question was not whether homosexuals deserved marriage, but whether they deserved a lobotomy. We may feel strongly about arguments like the 10 Commandments statue, Intelligent Design in schools, and Janet Jackson’s nipple, but the fact that we’re arguing about these should indicate just how secular our government has become. 50 years ago, we were putting God into the Pledge of Allegiance, Intelligent Design would have been a big step forward for (creationism-dominated) science classes, and TV stations would have refused to show Janet Jackson from the forehead down.”

    These conservatives want to turn back the clock to 1955- certainly not the best situation for a lot of folks, but I’ve heard nobody say that 1955 America was a theocracy or fascist. I also find it interesting you seem to ignore the “fascists” moves a number of beloved Administrations have done (and pretty much got away with) Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR are just three presidents that you would have to label fascists in your book. The republic survived those moves, much less some crazy talk out of the right today (or you for that matter).

  41. 46

    JCH spews:

    American lawyers with names like Goldenstein , Loeb, and Goodman must be able to sue Canadian firms for billions to drive up the drug prices. [hehe]

  42. 47

    Donnageddon spews:

    prr @1 “So…

    Would the same argument are proposing for Bush also apply for Gregoire & Unions in Washington State? ”

    If I understand your “foreign language” teh answer is: WTF are you talking about your complete MORON?

  43. 48

    Donnageddon spews:

    Jon @ 45, your comment was thoughtful if not dripping in foolishness. Intelligent Design is a harbinger of how far the right will go. The issue was decided 80 years ago, and painting mid-evil nonsense with “Intellgent” and “Design” does not hide the fact that the neo-cons want to take this country back into the dark ages. And for all the communist baiters out there, “Intelligent Design” is the neo-con variety science once practiced by the Stalinists with Lysenkoism. When politics decides what is scientifically correct, you can expect millions to die.

  44. 49

    Jon spews:

    Donnageddon @ 47:

    The point of the post was that evolution is accepted much more now than 50 years ago, so the right has already lost the battle. Wether or not Intelligent Design is valid or not isn’t relevant; the whole debate is moot. Nobody can “get rid” of evolution now, even if they wanted to.

  45. 50

    Donnageddon spews:

    Jon, the battle for science in our classrooms is hardly won. The “intelligent Design” claptrap pushed by the neo-cons and President Bush is gaining ground in the midwest and the south. There is no doubt the religious-right wants to take evolution to the dustbin, and our country to the dark ages.

  46. 52

    zip spews:

    Jon

    Your post illustrated perfectly what infuriates many about the “Progressives” around here: Things are never good enough for them. They can’t look back fifty years and be awed by the actual progress that has been made. They are too busy whining until everything meets with their 100% approval. The environmental zealots are the same. If they admit that things are improved today compared to the 1960′s (remember the rivers catching afire?) they might be a little easier to take seriously.

  47. 53

    VCRW spews:

    What? No comment on Dean Loagan’s testimony? It was even reported in the Socialist Times:

    “”The question is, do you know whether the returns in King County were accurate within 129 votes?” GOP attorney Rob Maguire asked Logan on page 225 of the 436-page deposition transcript, released Monday night by Rossi’s office.

    “No, I do not,” Logan replied. “

  48. 54

    dj spews:

    chardonnay @ 50

    “darwins theory is still a theory”

    Which theory of Darwins is “still a theory.” He had a number of theories.

  49. 55

    Donnageddon spews:

    Cheap Whine @ 50 Like most dark-ages neo-cons you really have no idea what a scientific theory means, do ya? In science theory is an provisionally accepted fact. Hypothesis is a means by which a theory (fact) is achieved. Just as gravity is a theory, the hypothesis of how gravity is achieved is a point of contention. But, if you think gravity is a theory, try jumping off a 40 story building. Really, I encourage you to. It would make the planet a better place.

    Evolution is as factual as gravity. Unless you live in the “non reality based” Bush world.

  50. 56

    Donnageddon spews:

    zip @ 51 “Your post illustrated perfectly what infuriates many about the “Progressives” around here: Things are never good enough for them. They can’t look back fifty years and be awed by the actual progress that has been made.”

    Funny how “progress” is measured that way, ain’t it? We could have been awed at how the slaves were freed in 1865, and just smiled self satisfied smiles, or we could progress. I prefer the later.

  51. 58

    zip spews:

    Donnageddon

    Way to look back, lefty. You missed the point entirely thru those pink lenses on your glasses. Maybe you should go back and read Jon’s post again and then tell me how reasonable you guys are with all your paranoia about religion.

    The worst part about it is you lefty’s use your paranoia as an excuse to whip people up into hatred of religion. That is why I state that it’s never good enough for you guys.

  52. 59

    Donnageddon spews:

    Zip, you seem to be very anxious to divert the topic. “lefty”? I bat and throw right handed. But since YOU bring up the topic of religion, The USa is FAR more “publically religious” than during the Eisenhower years. You look through a decidedly “non reality” based lens. This current right-wing fascination with using religion as a crutch for fact based public discourse is unpresident in our history.

    You really need to bone up on history and the current times, zip, or no one will take you seriously at all.

  53. 60

    zip spews:

    Donageddon

    Because you say “The USa is FAR more “publically religious” than during the Eisenhower years” does not make it true. Of course, when you also say “the neo-cons want to take this country back into the dark ages” you prove your paranoia. So you have no credibility left anyway. Way to “use your paranoia as an excuse to whip people up into hatred of religion.” You’re reading right out of the “progressive” play book, you sheep.

  54. 61

    Erik spews:

    Make no mistake… the right-wing Christian fundamentalists who have seized control of the Republican leadership are not only intent on outlawing abortion, but most, if not all forms of birth control as well.

    Yes. In fact, 30 some years ago, the religious right had convinced many states to outlaw birth control. The supreme court overruled the state bans and held that the US Constitution gave right to privacy that (gasp) one had the right to become pregnant or not.

    The religious right considers birth control bad because some unmarried folks might be having sex. But they also want it banned because they do not want married non-procreating sex occurring either.

  55. 62

    zip spews:

    That all sounds pretty far out there, Erik. I hope you’re not too worried over this. Perhaps if you and the “progressive” crowd stopped obsessing over the religious right you could gain a little perspective and realize how ridiculously paranoid your rantings are.

    This obsession has become the “cause of the day” for you guys. It will be interesting to see what this obsession does to further the “progressive” cause. You run the risk that it will drive people away and you will be out there with the anarchists ranting and raving with no affect.

  56. 63

    Zap spews:

    OT, but I was accused of being Zapporo in another commentary that may be finished getting attention. I addressed my accuser therein, but wanted to mention in a fresh thread that I am most certainly not Zapporo. I’ve posted as Zap, and only as Zap, on the internet for over ten years. It’s the first and only handle I have used. I didn’t choose it because I Zap people or anything macho sounding it may cause some to think. My first chat was in Espn’s NFL room, I am a Charger fan, the Lightening Bolts, so Zap. I overused it. It stuck with me from forum to forum. I am Zap. I treat people with respect and seek honest discussion. Zapporo doesn’t. I hope the difference is clear to anyone who reads Also Also.

  57. 64

    Erik spews:

    That all sounds pretty far out there, Erik. I hope you’re not too worried over this.

    It seem that way doesn’t it?

    Hard to believe the state would try to limit contraceptives for married people. Yet, that was exactly the case in 1965 in Connecticut (Griswold v. Connecticut):

    Griswold and her colleague were convicted under a Connecticut law which criminalized the provision of counselling, and other medical treatment, to married persons for purposes of preventing conception.

    Question Presented

    Does the Constitution protect the right of marital privacy against state restrictions on a couple’s ability to be counseled in the use of contraceptives?

    http://www.oyez.org/oyez/resource/case/149/

    The court answered in the affirmative.

  58. 65

    zip spews:

    Erik, The religious right didn’t “convince the State” to pass the law in 1965 or 30-some years ago did they? 10 bucks says it was one of those loony old laws whose time had long passed. So your whole paranoid rant about this is over some old law still on the books which was ruled unconstitutional in 1965. WTF?

  59. 66

    Erik spews:

    The religious right didn’t “convince the State” to pass the law in 1965 or 30-some years ago did they?

    No. The law was overturned in 1965 by the US supreme Court.

    Yes, the religious right was the one who put it in on the books in the first place.

  60. 68

    jpgee spews:

    I am quite sure that zip, zap, Mr. C, prr, jch and chardonnay are incredibly religious and abide by all their churches ‘laws’. In the case of ‘sex’ I can also imagine that none of them has ever had sex except to procreate!!! Once or twice in a lifetime is adequate for our resident trolls.

  61. 71

    Jon spews:

    Erik (and Donnageddon): Again, if you consider 1955 the dark ages, then yes, that’s what some on the right want to take us back to. What I object to using labels such as ‘dark ages’, ‘nazi’, ‘fascist’, etc. (and their lefty counterparts). What people are talking about may be scary to you, but let’s have some perspective. I think using such labels, quite frankly, demeans and trivializes the real victims of those ‘labels’. What you think the other side is doing/thinking in reality or in your head is not any of the above.

    Oh, and one more thought I read, and wish I had wrote it, and wish Goldy would take it to heart: “I grow more and more convinced the Republican majority will end itself by 2006 if the Left will just shut up for five minutes.”

  62. 72

    dj spews:

    jon @ 69

    “I grow more and more convinced the Republican majority will end itself by 2006 if the Left will just shut up for five minutes.”

    That’s a good one. But, behind the comedy, there is a dark truth. Every time the Left becomes meek in the interest of national unity, national security, or whatever, we find our country trashed and shamed: we are catapulted into an illegal war, we find the government is spending into oblivion, we find our civil rights abridged, we find the government snarling at our foreign allies, we find our government in bed with a military dictators that possess atomic weapons, we find environmental protections trashed, we find the government disseminating propaganda through media manipulation. . . .

    No doubt, Rove would capitalize on the 5 minute silence.

  63. 74

    DamnageD spews:

    @ 51

    Creationism isn’t even a theory…just a concept. Even though I believe in God and Jesus, it dosen’t mean i’m gonna blindly accept everything the “good book” says as cold fact. There are a number of factors that have shaped this planet in the past 4 BILLION years, and the concept of evolution and or punctuated equilibrium make a better case in FACT then every single species existing at the same time…and never chaging. I loved to try to get my old preacher and sunday school teacher to explain how old Noah got two of every dinosar on the ark. Cause either it means the info about Noahs boat was BS (i.e the Bible was wrong…GASP) or Dionsaurs didn’t exist because they were neven mentioned of considered…more flaw in bibilcal perfection.

  64. 75

    Donnageddon spews:

    Jon, every thing you have stated has just shown the “sheeple” mentality of the right. You have no bones at throwing out the name-calling and distortions of reality you hear from the right wing echoe chamber, but the minute anyone calls the neo-cons what they are , you scream for civility.

    Ain’t gonna happen this time, big fella. We The People have been burned to many times by playing it civil with the barbarians of the right.

  65. 76

    Jon spews:

    Donnageddon: “We The People have been burned to many times by playing it civil with the barbarians of the right.”

    And what has your “name-calling and distortions of reality” gotten you? Loss of the White House twice against a weak candidate and losing more seats in Congress.

    And how is calling for some perspective “name calling”? I want a strong and vibrant Democratic Party, as I think it’s good for everyone. Also, be sure to call somebody like Joel Connelly of the P-I a “sheeple” as he’s said basically the same thing.

  66. 77

    DamnageD spews:

    Since folks are so far off topic, i’ll comment on the origional post(if thats okay with the trolls). If anyone else has read this or any other article on this issue in the past week you’ll see a few interesting points evolving (pun intended).

    “Pharmacists are regulated by state laws and can face disciplinary action from licensing boards. But the only case that has gotten that far involves Neil T. Noesen, who in 2002 refused to fill a University of Wisconsin student’s birth control pill prescription at a Kmart in Menomonie, Wis., or transfer the prescription elsewhere. An administrative judge last month recommended Noesen be required to take ethics classes, alert future employers to his beliefs and pay what could be as much as $20,000 to cover the costs of the legal proceedings. The state pharmacy board will decide whether to impose that penalty next month. He’s a devout Roman Catholic and believes participating in any action that inhibits or prohibits human life is a sin,” said Aden of the Christian Legal Society. “The rights of pharmacists like him should be respected.” (screw the rights the paitent..or the laws for that matter)

    So just WTF was this guy thinking when he got into this profession? Seems to me like he wants to play god, reguardless of his “medical” responsibilities. But that dosent seem to matter cause playing god seems to be legal…

    “Wisconsin is one of at least 11 states considering “conscience clause” laws that would protect pharmacists such as Noesen. Four states already have laws that specifically allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their beliefs. At the same time, at least four states are considering laws that would explicitly require pharmacists to fill all prescriptions.
    The American Pharmacists Association recently reaffirmed its policy that pharmacists can refuse to fill prescriptions as long as they make sure customers can get their medications some other way. We don’t have a profession of robots. We have a profession of humans. We have to acknowledge that individual pharmacists have individual beliefs,” said Susan C. Winckler, the association’s vice president for policy and communications. “What we suggest is that they identify those situations ahead of time and have an alternative system set up so the patient has access to their therapy.”

    I especally like this comment..” We have a profession of humans. We have to acknowledge that individual pharmacists have individual beliefs”. It’s more important for the individual beliefs of the drug holder than the drug buyer/user?
    Sounds like BS to me…nice double standard, so typical of those “devout” believers.

    So whats next, attacking the “alternative system”? How about the neo-cons just loby congress to outlaw the all the meds that dont fit their adjenda? Hell, why not just shut down the local corner pharm and set up shop in your local church foyer? And, hey just think, the profit mark up could go into the Sunday collections dish…everybody wins!!

    ‘Cept for the people who need the meds…

  67. 78

    Donnageddon spews:

    Jon, you ignorant horses ass! The left has for far too long played the civil route with the right wing slime machine. Them days are over, shit for brains.

    So you ask me “name-calling and distortions of reality gotten you” Fair question I geuss, asshole. Here is your answer: as for name calling I don’t know yet, I like most progressives have played it civil up till now. But the anti-civil slime of the right wing seems to work so well for evil ends, I figure it is time to let it work for more just causes.

    Oh and, “distortions of reality”? Don’t deal with that, fuckface, I stick with the facts, and put them up were even a dickhead like you can see them.

  68. 79

    dj spews:

    DamagedD @ 77

    Nice post. It will require more than a slap on the hands to stop this slide—like a pharmacist getting a court order to pay maternity and child support for 18 1/2 years.

  69. 80

    headless lucy spews:

    If lefties want to play the right winger’s political game for serious ,then we’ll need to come up with lots of snappy one-liner solutions for complex problems and ,oh, I almost forgot: Stop demonizing middle- aged and middle-class white men.

  70. 81

    jpgee spews:

    In a business sense it seem rather odd…… I have managed and owned business for the past 35 years. In each and every business if there was a ‘reduction’ to be given to any customers it was always to the closest/best/biggest customers of the said businesses. Never to someone ‘far away’ or out of our preferred customer base. Now the Pharma Industry sees everything completely reverse. Wow…..all those years and I should have given my products away for a loss to ‘unknown customers’ and gouged my loyal customer base to the hilt. Time to change my business practices. NOT

  71. 82

    zip spews:

    jpgee @ 68 you said: “I am quite sure that zip, zap, Mr. C, prr, jch and chardonnay are incredibly religious and abide by all their churches ‘laws’. ”

    Listen here I have never once claimed to be even a little bit religious much less incredibly so. But I will continue to criticize you and Goldy et al for being incredibly ANTI-religous. You guys are just reading the lefty script du jour. Sheep. Bah bah jpgee.

  72. 83

    Bob spews:

    LET’S SEE IF I UNDERSTAND THIS RIGHT……

    It is bad to outsource US jobs overseas, but it is good to outsource pharmacists jobs and perscription drug manufacturing jobs to Canada.

    Passing Medical tort reform is bad, but dodging the implicit insurance and legal costs for drug companies doing business in the US is good.

    WalMart is bad because they lower prices at the expense of US jobs and through the practice of free international trade, but lowering perscription drug costs by free international trade at the expense of US jobs is good.

    This is so confusing!

  73. 84

    AllHatAndNoHorse spews:

    What it is, is whats good for the goose, is evidently Not good for the gander.
    These big companies want to outsource jobs, to undercut american wages, but when americans do the same thing back to them, shrub steps in to help his cronies.
    So american workers, get fucked in both ends.
    Kapish?