Archive | Corporate Statism

Yet another reason to nationalize Big Pharma

Blood Collection tubes

If nothing else, the U.S. should take over the manufacture of drugs deemed to be important to the interest of public health:

Valeant Pharmaceuticals raised the price of a drug used to treat lead poisoning by 2,700 percent after acquiring the drug in 2013. By 2015 – as the issue of lead poisoning became prominent news – the price for a package of vials rose from $950 to $26,927.

This intravenous treatment, called Calcium EDTA, has been available for decades at a stable price, and is the most effective for severe and life-threatening cases of lead poisoning. The dramatic price increase has drawn the ire of poison control specialists and hospitals since it began, but their concerns don’t make the MSM news headlines.

“This is a drug that has long been a standard of care, and until recently it was widely accessible at an affordable price,” said Dr. Michael Kosnett, an associate clinical professor in the division of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine and a consultant to the California Poison Control System, who has contacted Congress. “There’s no justification for the astronomical price increases by Valeant, which limit availability of the drug to children with life-threatening lead poisoning.”

The problem is, the drug does not have a long shelf life and is not needed in large quantities, since severe lead poisoning is relatively uncommon. This is precisely the excuse Valeant gives for its egregious price hikes, with a company spokesman telling STAT, “The list price increases over the past several years have enabled us to provide to the market consistent availability of a product with high carrying costs and very limited purchase volume of 200 to 300 units per year.


The Penny Stock Chronicles

Penny Stock Wants To Do Everything To Help You Trade Successfully

David Dayen wrote a fascinating series on likely fraud by major banks in the penny stock market. If you’re an investor, you will want to read this:

All seven installments can be found here.
Part 1: The Money is Gone
Part 2: Big Players, Little Stocks, and Naked Shorts
Part 3: Naked Shorts Can’t Stay Naked Forever (or can they?)
Part 4: Calling the SEC
Part 5: Turning Up Like a Bad Penny
Part 6: Were Paper Losses the Goal All Along?
Part 7: The Half Billion Dollar Glitch

To those defending Trump’s tax evasion because it ‘was legal’: you’re missing the damn point

Donald Trump • Debate

A saying I use fairly often is that just because someone has the right to do something doesn’t make what they’re doing right. A person doesn’t have to be a criminal to be an unethical, sleazy scumbag con artist who lacks any and all trace of morals and basic decency. style=”display:inline-block;width:336px;height:280px” data-ad-client=”ca-pub-5626295912827181″ data-ad-slot=”3586339813″> For example, in… Continue Reading →

How Trump ditched U.S. steel workers in favor of China

Newest Steel Fabrication China News

Plenty of blue-collar workers believe that, as president, Donald Trump would be ready to fight off U.S. trade adversaries and reinvigorate the country’s manufacturing industries through his commitment to the Rust Belt. What they likely don’t know is that Trump has been stiffing American steel workers on his own construction projects for years, choosing to deprive… Continue Reading →

Art of the steal: Three pages

AFT Convention 2012 Detroit AFT Public Employees Breakfast

What David Cay Johnston figured out about Trump’s taxes from those three pages:

Normally, any part of a loan that is forgiven becomes taxable income, as millions of people who could not repay home mortgages or student loan debt have learned in recent years.

That’s where Section 108 comes in. Three years after Trump bested his bankers, Congress amended that section to let real-estate professionals avoid income taxes on debts that were canceled.

The technique is simple. The taxes due immediately because a debt is forgiven can be exchanged for relinquishing future real-estate tax deductions. Trump agreed to forgo his future right to take about $1 billion worth of depreciation on his casino hotels.

This exchange created a future problem for Trump. Real estate that cannot be depreciated is worth a lot less. Indeed, generous tax benefits drive real-estate investment. So while Trump escaped an immediate income-tax bill, the future tax benefits he gave up would mean that he would likely have to pay income taxes on his salary, fees for licensing his name, and other income.

To solve this problem, Trump sold stock for the first time in 1995. He founded Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, which which then took ownership of his casino hotels.

That meant Trump got money for selling his casino hotels, while the investors got real estate with greatly diminished tax benefits.

Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts was a complete disaster. It lost money every year. During Trump’s 13 years as chairman, the company lost $1.1 billion. Trump stock fell from a high of $35 to just 17 cents, wiping out investors.

Trump did just fine, though. He was paid $82 million, Fortune magazine estimated. The publicly traded company even took out loans that were used to pay off some of Trump’s remaining obligations to the banks from when he owned his casinos outright.

Warren wants Obama to veto bill with dark money provision

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

She wants the White House to veto efforts by GOP to hide campaign funders:

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Thursday pressed the Obama administration to pledge to veto any annual budget measure that includes a Republican-backed, anti-transparency provision. In an interview with International Business Times, the Massachusetts Democrat said the White House should take a hard line against the provision, if the rider makes it into a year-end budget bill to fund the government.

The rider — which would ban regulators from forcing companies to disclose their political spending — was inserted by GOP leaders into a temporary budget measure that will keep the government running until after the November election.

“Obviously this one is now done — we’ve got a continuing resolution that is going to hold up until the lame duck,” she told IBT. “But I would like to see the White House much more actively involved in the negotiations and tell the Republicans directly that the president will not sign a budget that includes a provision to protect dark money.”

Warren’s veto demand comes as cash floods into groups that do not have to disclose their donors. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports that more than $73 million of such “dark money” has been spent during the current election cycle. A disclosure rule could force publicly traded companies to disclose how much dark money they are spending.

Last week, the Obama administration floated the possibility that the president could veto a budget bill because the GOP rider is in it — but the White House did not commit to such an action.

Why I still want Big Pharma nationalized

FDA Entrance

Reason No. 2,187. Because the FDA won’t even let journalists tell us the truth:

The Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), of which I am a member, publicly objected to the close-hold embargo, noting that it “will be a serious obstacle to good journalism. Reporters who want to be competitive on a story will essentially have to agree to write only what the FDA wants to tell the world, without analysis or outside commentary.” Faced by this opposition, the agency quickly backtracked. After a meeting with AHCJ leaders, Meghan Scott, then the agency’s acting associate commissioner for external affairs, wrote: “Prior to your inquiry, the FDA did not have a formal news embargo policy in place.” The FDA was now establishing new ground rules that “will better serve the media and the public.”

Initially published online in June 2011, the FDA’s new media policy officially killed the close-hold embargo: “A journalist may share embargoed material provided by the FDA with nonjournalists or third parties to obtain quotes or opinions prior to an embargo lift provided that the reporter secures agreement from the third party to uphold the embargo.” Due diligence would always be allowed, at least at the FDA.

Health and science journalists breathed a sigh of relief. The AHCJ expressed gratitude that the FDA had changed its tune, and Oransky’s Embargo Watch congratulated the agency for backing down: “For doing the right thing, the FDA has earned a spot on the Embargo Watch Honor Roll. Kudos.” And the FDA had cleared up the misunderstanding and affirmed that it was committed to “a culture of openness in its interaction with the news media and the public.”

In reality, there was no misunderstanding. The close-hold embargo had become part of the agency’s media strategy. It was here to stay—policy or no policy.

It is hard to tell when a close-hold embargo is afoot because, by its very nature, it is a secret that neither the reporters who have been given special access nor the scientific institution that sets up the deal wants to be revealed. The public hears about it only when a journalist chooses to reveal the information.

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