Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Big Pharma and the Fountain of Youth or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Meds (as well as other thoughts.)



Those of us who are old enough to tune into the ridiculous network news on, say, CBS, for example, are treated to a few minutes of news whilst being berated by a slew of ads for neuropathic pain, high blood pressure, testosterone, Viagra, and Cialis among other bromides to cure septuagenarians, octogenarians, and other people of a certain age through the miracle of medical science, who by now, should be dead, or by the time they have finished the “newscast,” wish they were.  

The network news with, for example, Scott Pelley is usually an inane conglomeration of human interest stories, snowstorms, heat waves, tornadoes (depending upon the season) and people who rescue dogs, cats and other creatures fortunate enough not to be subjected to the insulting prattle serving as a vehicle to sell products that should not be advertised at all.  This, all bolstered by an unusually sappy Steve Hartman human interest story about someone who is usually in a wheelchair who has learned to play the oboe through the same straw he uses to operate his transportation.  Fortunately, this only appears as the last segment on Friday night, when the mercies of the DVR allow a quick fast forward to spare us the last insult to even those with a modicum of intelligence.   

“Talk to your doctor. It may be low T”  Folks, more like, Talk to your doctor about how you can suffer a heart attack, stroke, shortness of breath, insomnia, rage, depression, suicidal impulses, prostate cancer, and various other side effects of this hormone, which naturally declines during the aging process.  This is a blatant snake oil pitch, and there seems to be no restraining it, because the Supreme Court says that restrictions on commercial speech violate the first Amendment.  These folks watch the CBS news, I can assure you.

Testosterone medications are marketed simply because they make money.  There is  no public policy reason to allow drug companies to cynically hawk these medications, no matter how beneficial, to the general public.  These are products to be evaluated by physicians.   The information concerning the medications during the “sale” phase of the ad, differs from the voice during the “warning” phase of the ad.  It is conceived and designed to deceive the public, no less than the tobacco companies which lied about the dangers of tobacco.

The 1950s ads about the “T” zone and more doctors smoking Camels than other brands have simply morphed into a different phase of marketing.  And now the phase is low “T” instead of the the “T” zone.
Testosterone marketing is no less a danger to the public and it is clear that the marketing of it will eventually lead to a plethora of claims for the foreseeable harm that it causes. 


Thoughts on the Presidential aspirations of a certain New Jersey Governor.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Abraham Lincoln

Governor Christie is in trouble, and deservedly so.  His transparently false denials and his tossing his friends to the wolves speak volumes about his dubious character. 
There was something disingenuous about his two hour apologia marathon, something that did not ring true.   His disavowal of his friendship with his high school friend, his denigration of his friend's status in high school as opposed to his own, rings a bell about those who are supposedly pristinely qualified for public office, who travel under the mantle of “plain speaking,” and who generally are exposed by the other Lincoln maxim of fooling some of the people some of the time but not fooling all of the people all of the time.

Now there is a feeding frenzy among the press and subpoenas will soon reveal that Mr. Christie is probably a fraud as well as a bully.
Sometimes America is fortunate enough to learn why some men are not presidential timber before they are elected.
That is not to say that politicians are not as flawed as the rest of us, or that they are saints, but some are more flawed than others and that is something we should be glad to know before the campaign even starts.

The Likud and the Boycott by the European Union

The Palestinians and the upcoming EU boycotts of Israel may have more of an impact on Israeli policy toward the eventual necessity of the two-state solution than all of the previous wars and violence perpetuated by Arab nationalists.  Although Israel received rockets in return for their exit from Gaza, they may be faced with, in the eyes of the right wing government, an even more undesirable alternative.  The impact on Israeli business and employment if the boycott takes effect.   

This may have more influence on Israeli political decisions concerning the West Bank than the foolishly conducted violent Palestinian intifadas.
It seems like the Netanyahu government wishes to create a de facto annexation of the territories.  

This, as I have written previously represents more of a threat to Israel than ending the occupation.  If the EU carries out the boycott, there are many in Israel, including the newly popular potential prime minister, Yair Lapid, who believe that the 350,000 settlers will ultimately have to return to Israel, in exchange for NATO peacekeepers and what possibly might become a stable peace.

There are many Israelis who think that the climate has now changed enough to give peace a chance. Many Jewish American supporters of Israel agree.