Curb Drug Costs: Makes Sense For All

By Mike Anthony, on page A10 of the Southampton Press:

http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODN/SouthamptonEast/

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Makes Sense For All

Dr. David Posnett’s informative letter about House of Representative bill HR3 [“Choosing Sides,” Letters, January 9], see prior post herein, details key elements of Congress’s promise to establish a consumer- and patient-friendly drug price negotiation system. Dr. Posnett aptly captures the gist of the matter in several paragraphs.

My prime takeaway: If the Veterans Administration can negotiate drug prices, why not the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services? High-quality and lower-cost drugs makes sense for all of us.

As Dr. Posnett points out, Congressman Lee Zeldin repeats the canard that “these policies would siphon $1 trillion from biopharmaceutical innovators over the next 10 years.” A cynic might ask: Why don’t the drug companies use some of their robust advertising budget and redirect it to research?

The thing is, you don’t have to be a cynic to think that way. Dr. Marcia Angell reveals how drug companies have strayed from their mission in “The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It.” Here’s an excerpt from the publisher:

“As Dr. Angell powerfully demonstrates, claims that high drug prices are necessary to fund research and development are unfounded. The truth is that drug companies funnel the bulk of their resources into the marketing of products of dubious benefit.”

Any doubt about that? Just ask Purdue Pharma, the company that pleaded guilty to criminal charges of misbranding Oxycontin by claiming that it was less addictive compared to other opioids. Purdue was fined $634 million.

Yes, drug efficacy and safety are as important as pricing — and HR3 covers that as well.

NPR reports that several overseas generic drug manufacturers abuse safety protocols. In India, about 25 percent of inspected drug manufacturing plants violated drug integrity rules; in China, 32 percent of their plants violated these rules.

To guarantee the safe manufacture of drugs, HR 3 provides $920 million to improve regulatory oversight of medical products and to protect public health. And, most important to the East End community, HR3 provides $7.5 billion in funding for states, counties, cities and towns to fight the opioid epidemic.

Contact Congressman Zeldin and ask him to reconsider his opposition to HR3:  https://zeldin.house.gov/contact/offices

Mike Anthony

Westhampton

Posted in drug costs, drug epidemic, Health Care, Medicaid, medicare, Opiod, Opioid, Uncategorized, veterans, Zeldin | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Debunking Anti-Vaxxers

Worth watching:

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https://portside.org/video/2020-01-17/debunking-anti-vaxxers

 

Posted in Health Care, science, Trump, Uncategorized, vaccines | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Plastic Pollution of the Oceans

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LTE: Washes Up
East Hampton Star
January 13, 2020

To the Editor:

On Jan. 5 Lee Zeldin tweeted, “So ridiculous. Apparently, this is from a new county law here in Suffolk.” The tweet was accompanied by a photo of a sign in a Dunkin’ Donuts that read, “We can no longer offer you straws or put them out for you to help yourself . . . you must ask us for a straw.”

So this is news to Mr. Zeldin, and he thinks it’s ridiculous? Legislation banning plastic straws that has been talked and written about since the beginning of last year and signed into law on Earth Day, April 22, is news to him? That this legislation had the support of many restaurants is probably also news to him.

Wake up, Mr. Zeldin. We live on an island. Anyone who has taken an early morning walk on the beach can tell you the amount of plastic that washes up is disturbing.

We deserve a representative who is not only aware of what is going on in this district but who is willing to step up and support solutions to the urgent environmental issues of the day. We can do better than a climate change denier whose contributions are a cavalier attitude and snarky tweets.

Sincerely,

CAROL DEISTLER

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Posted in Environment, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Trump: I will “Negotiate Like Crazy”

Drug Revenue

 

https://www.27east.com/east-hampton-press/choosing-sides-1666846/

Choosing Sides

Donald Trump has repeatedly proposed to allow Medicare to “negotiate like crazy” on prescription drugs. Now, he is backtracking. Was this all showmanship? He probably realizes that skyrocketing drug prices will be an issue in 2020.

Here is where we stand.

HR3 is the House bill that recently passed, 230-192, with unanimous Democratic support. This bill requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to negotiate prices for certain drugs; current law prohibits the CMS from doing so. CMS must negotiate maximum prices for insulin products and expensive brand-name drugs that do not have generic competition.

In addition, the negotiated maximum price may not exceed 120 percent of the average price in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. This is meant to stop drug companies from ripping off Americans, while charging other countries less for the same drugs. Drug manufacturers that fail to comply are subject to penalties.

The bill also reduces annual out-of-pocket costs for patients to $2,000. Also, the Congressional Budget Office claims that HR3 would lower health insurance costs for employers and increase federal revenue by about $45 billion a year, because employer insurance premiums would decline, and those savings would manifest in increased taxable wages.

Sounds reasonable, right? Of course, pharma disapproves, and its arguments have become the Republican rallying cry: HR3 would stifle innovation and new drug development.

It’s exactly the ageless claim I have been hearing for over 40 years from the pharma industry — a claim meant to stifle price controls. I say this having worked with pharma companies in drug development as an outside collaborator and consultant: Note that every other first-world country has price controls, and their pharma industries do quite well. Note also that much of the “innovation” in this country comes from government-funded research grants (tax dollars). Pharma often gets a freebee when they pick up a promising project and help carry it to fruition (I’m thinking of anti-HIV drugs, for example).

U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin voted against HR3 and is one of the standard-bearers of the pharma party line. He’s covering himself politically by expressing support for a watered-down Senate bill, which has little chance of passage, even in the Senate.

Although one HR3 opposition group calls itself Voters for Cures, it is clear who they really are: They complain that “these drastic policies would siphon $1 trillion from biopharmaceutical innovators over the next 10 years.” And Lee Zeldin is on board, writing: “House Democrats’ legislation stifles medical innovation.”

One trillion dollars for big pharma? That’s your money.

By opposing HR3, Lee Zeldin has voted for the drug companies, against drug price controls and against the interest of his constituents.

David N. Posnett, M.D., East Hampton

Posted in Health Care, Medicaid, medicare, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Why Start a War with Iran? Trump in his own Words…

Unknown

No comment.

Posted in foreign policy, Iran, Trump, Trump atrocities, Uncategorized, war | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Anti-science Movements

gardasil9-logo-desktop

 

“Anti-vaxxers embody the dangers of the growing anti-science movements”

The HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine, Gardasil, is the subject of two bills in N.Y. State to make it mandatory for school kids. Concerned parents claim this would usurp their role: “Who knows best about my kid? Some stranger in the Department of Health or me?”

Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, an estimated 3-4 million Americans got measles each year. Wide-spread use of the vaccine led to a 99% reduction. When outbreaks occurred in 2019 among unvaccinated children, exemptions from measles vaccination were reversed.

HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that causes a number of frequent cancers (cervical cancer, throat cancer, etc.). The HPV vaccine is the first-ever vaccine to prevent human cancer, a huge milestone in immunology and oncology.

It is important to vaccinate a high percentage of the population. This results in the ‘herd effect’: even the remaining few un-immunized are protected. Diseases like polio and smallpox hardly exist anymore due to mandatory vaccination programs.

However, we are now witnessing growing anti-science movements. Anti-science has been co-opted by politicians eager to take advantage of constituents’ fear. Examples of anti-science include evolution deniers, climate-change deniers, flat-earthers, anti-vaxxers, even those that believe the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory can create black holes.

YouTube is where the Flat Earth movement started. Videos included international conferences and debates such as “Flat Earth vs. Scientists!” Flat-earthers are self-avowed conspiracy theorists, skeptics and apparently number 2% of Americans. NASA, they propose, was founded to keep the “big lie” under wraps with fake pictures from space, and indeed faked manned space shuttles. “Science has had its chance…” says Mark Sargent, a Flat Earth leader.

Is this harmless? Conspiracies, like the “climate change hoax” promulgated by Donald Trump, can be dangerous. It could accelerate climate change with truly catastrophic consequences.

Anti-vaxxers endanger us too. They recruit parents who are subjected to scary stories, like the autism scare (1997), when Dr. Andrew Wakefield suggested that the MMR vaccine led to autism. The paper was retracted due to serious procedural errors, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest, and ethical violations. Wakefield lost his medical license. Several other studies found no link between any vaccine and the likelihood of autism. Yet the anti-vaxxers claim there is a “lack of studies.”

The Gardisil mandate bill is not likely to be taken up by the NY State Legislature, let alone voted on. Pediatricians on Long Island strongly advise getting the vaccine. They don’t all think it should be mandated for school. Yet, stories of intimidation and even stalking of pediatricians by anti-vaxxers are real.

A retired science high school teacher thinks “They don’t want evolution taught in school. They don’t want vaccines. On Facebook, they say they aren’t putting that poison {vaccines} into their kids.” Not surprisingly there is a growing home-schooling movement.

In order to fear a disease, it needs to be real. You have to know someone who had it. There are very few people left alive with the paralysis of polio.

HPV causes cancer after many years. It is not an immediate threat. As it is related to sexual activity, there is a social stigma. Those afflicted often will not speak about it.

Most people have no primary care physician. They use urgent care facilities. They do not have a physician they trust to get answers about vaccines.

Vaccine manufacturers and the government could launch a PR campaign. But neither are trusted. It was different in the 1950s when the government, and Jonas Salk, supported by FDR (a victim of polio himself), were seen as heroes.

Online statements from flat-earthers and anti-vaxxers are clear: scientists are not to be trusted. And yet without medical science, we would not have antibiotics, cancer therapeutics, decreased infant mortality, organ transplants, immunotherapy for cancer, or vaccines! Vaccines prevented 10,000,000 deaths on this planet from 2010 – 2015 (WHO).

The progress of the last century or more is ours to lose.

David N. Posnett is a medical doctor with 40 years of research experience in immunology and oncology at Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medicine. He is a resident of Springs.

Posted in Health Care, science, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Climate and Real Estate

GUESTWORDS in the East Hampton Star

By David Posnett

January 1, 2020

There is already evidence of a real estate slump in the United States. A housing recession is predicted for 2020. The average price of luxury home sales is falling, as is the number of sales. Long Island specifically is suffering as sales decrease and homes lose value. This is rather astonishing given that the rest of the economy is still on steroids.

What are the reasons? The following have all been suggested.

First, baby boomers from New York are downsizing and moving to lower-tax states. Second, millennials seem to have a distaste for buying second homes and would rather rent. Third, bonuses on Wall Street fell 17 percent in 2018 compared with 2017.

Fourth, the tax changes brought on by Donald Trump: a cap of $10,000 on the amount of state and local taxes (SALT), including property taxes, that can be deducted from federal income tax. For an expensive home with property taxes of $50,000 per year, this means that $40,000 can no longer be deducted.

Fifth, as mentioned by some real estate professionals: chronic flooding, which threatens the values of houses here. According to Aidan Gardiner writing for The Real Deal, a website focusing on New York real estate news: “Chronic flooding threatens to sink the value of Hamptons homes. Hamptons homes are very likely to lose value given that they’ll face chronic flooding as climate changes and sea levels rise over the coming years, according to Bloomberg. Behind only central California, the area has the second-highest level of its property tax revenue at risk among U.S. municipalities with a high likelihood of chronic flooding in the next 12 years. Climate change is expected to bring constant floods that would tank property values, erode infrastructure, and sink tax revenue, all of which will make it harder to fund projects to battle the rising seas.”

You can check for yourself on ss2.climatecentral.org, where you can find a “risk zone map for surging seas.” See the figure appended below.  You can input anything from “unchecked pollution” to “extreme carbon cuts,” depending on how you predict future policies will rein in carbon emissions.

I assumed unchecked carbon emissions along the lines of our present-day emissions, and I asked for maps of a 10-foot water level rise. The program produces maps with dark blue shaded areas that will be underwater. Here are some of the highlights for the not so distant future (2050 to 2100).

Montauk will become an island, the Napeague stretch will be underwater, and much of downtown Montauk will be too, including Route 27. Flooding of Route 27 across Napeague will start with just a three-foot rise in sea water levels, shutting down access to Montauk.

Homes all around Accabonac Harbor will be flooded. Gerard Drive and Louse Point will be submerged. Maidstone Park, Sammy’s Beach, and Cedar Point will be gone. Barcelona Point and the Sag Harbor Golf Course will become an island.

Beach homes in Amagansett, homes along Two Mile Hollow Beach, homes around Hook Pond, Georgica Pond, and Wainscott Pond will all be underwater. Indeed, a few homes on Beach Lane in Wainscott will be submerged. That is where the cable from the South Fork Wind Farm is proposed to come ashore and where some of its opponents own property.

Much of Sag Harbor Village will be underwater, and North Haven will be a real island.

Up and down Long Island, the homes close to the South Shore will be underwater, and Fire Island will no longer exist.

The North Shore, too, will be flooded, and Greenport will be on an island.

Kennedy International Airport will be underwater.

It is not just someone else’s problem. Loss of value of high-end homes means loss of significant local business and loss of jobs, and it spills over, resulting in loss of the value of your own property regardless of whether it is in particular danger of flooding.

Showtime’s “The Affair” recently wrapped up its final season, and part of it was set in mid-21st-century Montauk, with warming temperatures and rising seas. The show forecasts what life will look like in 34 short years, including mass transit that routinely short-circuits because of flooding, coastal communities plunged into near-total darkness, and shoreline towns without basic municipal services.

We had better support clean energy (including offshore wind) and work to decrease our carbon footprint. It is urgent.

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https://ss2.climatecentral.org/#12/41.0339/-72.0864?show=satellite&projections=0-K14_RCP85-SLR&level=10&unit=feet&pois=hide

 

Posted in carbon neutral energy, climate change, Environment, long island, Paris Climate Accord, Uncategorized, wind energy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments