Browsing Posts in Science

With the costs of name-brand drugs rising exponentially over the past 20 years and higher premiums and co-pays, US citizens have, to a large extent, been able to count on lower-priced generics, which have always been assumed to be the same as their name-brand equivalents. This is not the case anymore as Teva Pharmaceuticals, based in Israel, has been swallowing up many of the leading generic drug manufactures over the past few years, making them the sole producer of many important generics that so many of us count on for a myriad of medical conditions. The fact that Teva is buying up the competition is not the focus here–though corporate monopolies are never good for consumers. It is the fact that so many of Teva’s generics are poorly produced in third-world countries and are not the same as their brand-name equivalents. While the chemical components of their drugs are the same, or bio-equivalent,  as the main chemical compound of the name-brand, it is the low-quality precursor chemicals, inferior manufacturing facilities and lack of production oversight that is causing adverse reactions in consumers that have begun taking generics produced under the Teva Umbrella.

Teva takes over

Teva was officially created in 1976 after the merger of three pharmaceutical companies created in Israel by European Immigrants. In 1982, the FDA approved its main manufacturing plant — and so began the path to market domination.

Teva is not solely interested in generics as they have produced some very effective and useful proprietary drugs such as Copaxone and Azilect. Despite their own research and development, Teva’s meteoric rise atop the pharmaceutical food chain has come through buying and merging with other large drug manufacturers. Most recently, the acquisition of Barr Pharmaceuticals in 2008 for over 7 billion dollars has further entrenched them in generic manufacturing. continue reading…

What is the prison industrial complex?

A very brief answer to that question would be: the private businesses, corporations and contractors that benefit from the construction, security and maintenance of prisons as a profit generating enterprise. In and of itself, making a profit by providing a service, in whatever form that service manifests, is how capitalism works. When it comes to the private prison industry however, that profit comes at the expense of; not only the tax-paying public that supports the private prison industry, but also the largely minority and poor population that is disproportionally incarcerated when compared to whites. The guards, or correctional officers, of these institutions are typically unable to unionize and generally paid very poorly for the dangerous job they do, ultimately leading to widespread corruption throughout the prison system; from the guards to law enforcement to the judicial system.

In the United States, 1.8 million individuals are behind bars. This is nearly 500,000 more than China, which has a population over quadruple the population of the United States and is largely criticized–deservedly so–for their human rights violations. If you are a black male in the United States, you are six times more likely to be in prison than a white male, and almost three times more likely than a Hispanic male. In 1993, while apartheid still existed in South Africa, the incarceration rate of black men was almost 1/6 what the current incarceration rate of black men in this country is. Not only is this emblematic of broad and systemic racial injustice, it is also the result of a profit-motivated prison system that makes more and more money–at taxpayer expense–when our citizens are locked up; increasingly for non-violent offenses. continue reading…

Originally written on April 27, 2010

Just last night I was watching my local news and heard about how some local Wal-Marts are now offering in-store medical clinics for shoppers. These clinics–or convenient care clinics–are supposed to be a quick alternative to having to make an appointment with your Doctor and then waiting, who knows how long, to see your Doctor. I did a little research and found that this is not unique to Central Pennsylvania. Wal-Mart has already opened several of these clinics around the country, with 400 total, scheduled to be opened this year.

This phenomenon of quick health care in a large retail store is not unique to just Wal-Mart. Many large grocery store chains are doing the same thing. What is interesting about these clinics is that when one drops in to perhaps get a sore throat looked at, they are not seeing an M.D., but rather a CNP; Certified Nurse Practitioner. I have no problem with CNPs, in fact, the CNP I see on regular basis is more competent and knowledgeable in general medicine than just about any M.D. I’ve ever seen.  The problem is, a CNP is not bound by Hippocratic Oath, therefore they can refuse treatment to any patient that comes in. continue reading…

Originally written on April 22, 2010

I know that this article is perhaps a few months behind the curve as far as recent events and “celebrity scandals” are concerned, but being an avid tennis aficionado and competitive player, I feel the need to comment on Agassi’s admission of recreational methamphetamine use in the late ’90s.

I started playing tennis around the age of 11, and within a couple of years had become a fairly decent tournament player for my age. This was during the late 1980s, just when a young Andre Agassi was coming on the scene and garnering fame more or less for his clothes and long hair more than for his actual tennis abilities. For the most part, I preferred to watch Stefan Edberg and Ivan Lendl  for their playing style, but as far as flash and fashion, I adored Agassi and his loud color combinations. I suppose I bought into to the commercial hype as well–begging my parents to buy me the Nike shoes and clothes worn by Agassi– I had the same god-awful shorts Agassi is wearing in the picture above; but hey, it was the late 80s, it was cool then. continue reading…

Originally written on April 6, 2010

Let me first start by offering a common definition of libel courtesy of the free dictionary

a. A false publication, as in writing, print, signs, or pictures, that damages a person’s reputation.

b. The act of presenting such material to the public.

Here are a few more definitions of libel pertaining to US law and defamation of character courtesy of a legal site

To defame, or expose to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule, by a writing, picture, sign, to lampoon.

To publish in print writing or pictures, broadcast through radio, television or film something that is false about someone else which would cause harm to that person or his/her reputation by bringing the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn, or contempt of others.

Published material meeting three conditions: The material is defamatory either on its face or indirectly; The defamatory statement is about someone who is identifiable to one or more persons; and, The material must be distributed to someone other than the offended party; i.e. published.

The purpose of this article is to give a personal account of my recent experiences trying to remove and defend myself against libelous statements published about me on the internet. It is my intent to spread awareness of websites that post, and in many ways, encourage libelous actions. I am referring specifically to a website that allows supposed ex-girlfriends/boyfriends to give accounts of their particular experiences with a former lover/spouse/significant other. I will not give the actual name of the offending website for obvious reasons, but suffice to say, anyone with an e-mail address can create an account and anonymously write anything their heart desires about the “offending” ex-boyfriend/girlfriend. Names, places of residence, colleges attended, mental health diagnosis’s and any other sort of personal information can be posted (other than social security/credit card numbers which would get the website removed from Google). There is no limit whatsoever as to what can be written, and no accountability by either the website, the website hosting company or the person writing the libelous statements. continue reading…

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