• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Who gets their stuff?
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Who gets their stuff?
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Who gets their stuff?
    Niles on Who gets their stuff?
    William on Who gets their stuff?
    William on Who gets their stuff?
    William on Who gets their stuff?
    William on OooOOOoooo, Snap! That’s going…
    Catscatscats on OooOOOoooo, Snap! That’s going…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on OooOOOoooo, Snap! That’s going…
    bellecat on OooOOOoooo, Snap! That’s going…
    bellecat on OooOOOoooo, Snap! That’s going…
    Kathleen A Wynne on The reason I won’t be voting f…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on The reason I won’t be voting f…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on The reason I won’t be voting f…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    May 2011
    S M T W T F S
    « Apr   Jun »
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

    • Broken heart
      I never really had a broken heartYou don’t believe me, just look at my chestThe way some people like to run and hideI never really, reallyI never really had a broken heart. Dr. Dog:
  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Bernie Sanders vs. Elizabeth Warren
      Many supporters of Sanders or Warren have become rather vicious to each other. The claim from the Warren supporters is that their candidate is the candidate of ideas, having put out tons of policy proposals. (Sanders has 25 last time I looked, so he’s not shy on this.) She’s younger, and it’s important to some […]
  • Top Posts

  • Advertisements

One step ahead makes you a leader…

…two steps ahead makes you a martyr.

So, in recent appearances at Virtually Speaking on BlogTalkRadio, Ian Welsh and Stirling Newberry, not to mention Stuart Zechman, all seem to be on board with the concept of rejecting the current batch of Democrats in order to reclaim the left.  They now believe you won’t get the Democrats’ attention if you complain bitterly about their antics but vote for them anyway.  It’s nice to see they have finally come around after three years.  They are now *exactly* where we were in June 2008.

Check it out here.  Someone must be reading it because that post is one of our top hits even three years later.

Of course, this will not stop the Ian, Sterling and Stuart types from running away from us screaming like we have cooties.  That’s because both parties did a number on the word PUMA, which stood for “Party Unity My Ass”.  Party unity my ass is pretty much the attitude I’m picking up from Ian, Stuart and Sterling now.  Correct me if I’m wrong guys.  When you say, “Oh, no, we’re not like you at all”, please show me where we now differ.  It would behoove them to pay attention to the faction they are writing off. Maybe they could even read the post to see how close we really are.  Or they could read all of the posts from 2008 and see how we evolved from loyal Democrats just watching the primaries starting in January to disenfranchised voters in May 2008. (I can almost see them squirming in their chairs)

We were once Democrats.  No one represents us now.  I think the proper term for us is “unaffiliated Liberals”.  We are not Tea Party people.  Nope.  Not even close.  We never signed onto the birther fiasco.  We didn’t like the way the left was demonizing Sarah Palin because it was sexist, boorish behavior that wasn’t going to change anyone’s mind.  It’s a pointless distraction and she plays her role as a shiny object to lefty magpies very well.  Nevertheless, we don’t support her or her politics.

If there was a new independent labor movement, we would be likely to join it, right there beside Ian, Stuart and Sterling.  I don’t think it will spell the end of the Democrats.  If a labor movement could seat a significant number of candidates in 2012, it could start pulling the Democratic party to the left again since presumably, those seats are going to come out of the Democratic Party’s ass.  It’s worth a shot.  But if the Democrats fail, there’s going to be a power vacuum and someone will step in to fill it.

Consider us the vanguard martyrs.  No, no, don’t thank us for taking the gratuitous hit from our own party.  We wouldn’t be in this mess if you had paid attention three years ago.

Advertisements

Bernie Sanders and the $1Million dollar drug innovation prize

Bernie Sanders sent out a tweet yesterday pointing to a Slate article from 2008.  It’s a proposal for revamping the patent system.  The idea is to reward drug innovators with a $1Million dollar prize instead of a patent.

 

When I told the BFF about it, he said, “Great!  What do we do on day 2?”

Seriously, Bernie, this is not necessarily a bad idea.  There are a lot of drug innovators out of work right now, or their work situations are very precarious.  This is especially true of medicinal chemists who specialize in transforming chemical scaffolds into drugs.  Then there are people like yours truly who design drugs who are vamping until our next gigs.

The problem is that drug research is incredibly expensive.  Any idea we have has to be ordered or made, and then tested.  There will have to be multiple assays run to verify structure activity relationships and biological activity.  Then there is the gauntlet of safety analyses required by the FDA.  It could work in a virtual environment but it requires the drug innovator to assemble a pharmaceutical company by themselves and presumably that $1M prize would have to be used to pay all of the contributors back.  After all, pharmacologists have to eat too.  What I fear would happen with the prizes is that desperate innovators would end up signing all their rights away to venture capitalists in order to make payroll while they’re starting up and going through the necessary iterations to prove a concept.

In other words, it’s not enough to live on or start to innovate, especially when one considers that it takes years and overhead expenses of the painstaking trials and errors to bring a drug to market.  Incubators have a very high failure rate.  I’m sure that the incubator model is just perfect for someone out there looking to feed on carrion but for labrats with families?   Ehhhhhh, not so much.  How do you bring down the startup costs?

I have a better idea.  The government can start its own companies.  Right now, pharmaceutical companies are trying to shed or tear down their labs in the US.  They want to rent the space to incubators but frequently, the price is too high for little companies.  In the end, it’s cheaper to just demolish them.  Buy the suckers up along with the equipment.  Better yet, snap up the old labs in the midwest.  That way, the scientists you need to hire to run the places can afford to live there on reasonable salaries.  Give us a place to do what we love and let us make the management decisions without the constant restructuring and mergers.  Then, we’ll sell the patents back to the government for a dollar.  That’s the going rate at the old pharma I used to work for.  It’s a fair deal.  You get dedicated scientists who can focus on their work without worrying about losing their houses and their kids’ college funds and you get the patents you need to bring the costs of prescription drugs down.

While you’re at it, reform and update the FDA so new drug entities can come to market.  You’re also going to have to level with the public about drug safety.  It is going to have to assume some level of risk or new drugs will never make it.

The big pharma companies won’t like it much.  In fact, I can already hear them howling and marshalling their army of lobbyists.  In general, I’m sympathetic to their predicament but if they hadn’t bet the pharm on short term solutions instead of the hard work to fix a broken system, they wouldn’t be in mess they’re in.  This is where we are in terms of drug innovation: research for antibiotics, cardiovascular, CNS and reproductive health drugs are getting severely scaled back by big pharma.  The big companies are going after biologicals, which have their own set of problems.  Well, alright then, let the pharmas knock themselves out on antibodies and have the government focus on the other therapeutic areas they have decided to pass on.

So, go, Bernie, but think this through thoroughly. You want to set it up in a way that makes it resistant to political games.  What pharma research needs is stability in order to innovate.  Any potential public-private partnerships need to be set up in way that protects and preserves this country’s scientific infrastructure and allows innovation without the chaos of the quarterly earnings report.  In other words, R&D has to be sequestered from the pressures of the business environment to some extent.  Just as you don’t want your insurance company deciding your medical treatment, you don’t want MBAs directing research.

Make sure to consult people in the R&D industry who are already in the process of setting up their own mom&pop drug companies in their garages.  That means you need to talk to the people who actually do the work, not the management class.  You will get a completely different assessment of what is broken in the current system and how to repair it.  You will have to compensate us well enough to induce a future generation of scientists to discover drugs.  That’s because this is hard work, requiring years of study and lab experience.  It has to be rewarded appropriately.  Health care and pensions would be very attractive.  But in the end, it could be a bargain.