Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Single payer Medicare does nothing to prevent extortion

Single payer Medicare does nothing to prevent the hepatitis and Zika virus extortions described in the post just below.  As long as there is no countervailing force, the proliferation of the financialization of medicine -- and of every other American enterprise -- will continue unabated.  Countervailing force?  High labor union density.  

Chose any medical system you want from any country you like: 6% union density in the private economy equates to 20/10 blood pressure: it starves every other healthy process.

Nobody would argue I think that when 1935 Congress passed the NLRA(a) it consciously left criminal prosecution of union busting blank because it desired states to individually take that up in their localities. Conversely, I don't think anybody thinks Congress deliberately left out criminal sanctions because it objected to such.

Congress left criminal sanctions blank in US labor law because it thought it had done enough. States disagree? States are perfectly free to fill in the blanks protecting not just union organizing but any kind of collective bargaining more generally -- without worrying about federal preemption. Don't see why even Trump USC judge would find fault with that.

This column from the other day gives me hope that Krugman may (finally) be catching on to the centrality of re-building union density.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gilead’s geese-that-never-stop-laying-golden-eggs viruses


Gilead has announced that a Hepatitis C virus has been introduced into the world and is now infecting 3 million Americans (and perhaps 125 million sufferers worldwide).

Gilead wants $300 billion from the US for a (99%) cure (which costs $200 a patient to manufacture, half a billion for every sufferer), but, hey, vics will pay what it’s worth to them, right?

Pay now and get cured — or stretch the payoff over Gilead’s 20 year patent and pay almost the same while the virus infects ever more victims. Gilead can extract $10 billion a year anyway — insurance will cover that much annually for sickest patients.

“The number of new [US] infections nearly tripled in five years, to about 2,400 in 2015. The virus is spread by sharing needles to inject drugs, and the increase coincided with a surge in heroin use.”

Pay up instead of dragging it out and save 400,000 US lives before the patent dies.

“Data from death certificates shows a total of 19,659 deaths in 2014, up from 11,051 in 2003. Because death certificates often under report hepatitis C, Ward said, that number could also be much higher.”

And who can guess how many hundreds of billions will go down the drain stateside dealing with the ravages of the virus: liver cirrhosis and cancer — not to mention lost work years?

California’s 600,000 sufferers would need $60 billion to neutralize Gilead’s goose-that-never-stops-laying-golden-eggs Hep C virus. World-wide elimination of Hep C at US prices (Gilead only charges about $1,000 a cure in poor countries — all the traffic is able to bear) would come to $15 trillion (with a “t”) for 150 million C sufferers (if they could get only away with it).

Gilead: pay now and don’t die — or pay almost as much (maybe more) later while almost as many (maybe more) die anyway.

Does Gilead perhaps bear more resemblance to the "Umbrella Corporation --  Ask Alice.  :-O

Here we go again: this time it's the Zika virus!

"The U.S. Army is planning to grant an exclusive license to the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. to manufacture and sell a Zika vaccine the Army developed last year."

"And that has Rebekah Gee, Louisiana's secretary of health, worried about paying for it.

"God forbid we have a Zika outbreak. We're in the middle of a fiscal crisis, we're already cutting services to people and we're already potentially cutting our funding to fight the Zika virus," Gee says.

"If the Army goes through with its plan, she says, Sanofi could set a price for the vaccine at a level that Louisianans just won't be able to afford.

"Gee is among a growing number of public officials and activists who are demanding that Sanofi agree to show restraint when it sets the price for the vaccine, which was developed by the Army.
 * * *
"Sanders and Knowledge Ecology point out that Sanofi has charged more in the U.S. for many medications, including the multiple sclerosis drug Aubagio, which costs Medicare more than $5,000, but in France it's priced at about $745."

Where's Alice?

Dishonorable mention:  "Pfizer raises US prices of 91 drugs by 20% in 2017"