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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…

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…

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