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Stuff that go together: How the rich are getting it wrong

Davos, Switzerland- Home of the World Economic Forum, the small evil group that runs the world to which no one we know belongs.

Chrystia Freeland discusses Plutocrats with Sam Seder on The Majority Report

Conjuring a High Tech Labor Shortage by Stan Storscher of Talking Union

Technology or Monopoly Power?, Paul Krugman, Conscience of a Liberal.

and the consequences:

The Drug Shortage No One is Talking About by Charles Pierce, Esquire

Study Ties Drug Shortage to Poorer Cancer Survival, Fox News (Ewwww)

Growing Drug Shortage Problematic for Patients, Doctors, ABC News

The drug industry in America has ceased to be.  It is an ex-industry.  It has joined the choir invisible.  The remaining multinational Pharmas’ strategy is to buy up the patents of struggling small biotechs and to use academic labs for the research they jettisoned.  But I’m reminded of something Mark Lynas said in his recent lecture on why he is no longer anti-GMO.  In our frenzy of making sure that big companies adhere to strangulating limits on their technology, we have allowed monopolies to thrive in the GMO industry while killing off emergent competition and potential diversity.

In the case of the drug industry, we have demanded so much hoop jumping in order to create the most perfect, side effect free, litigation proof drug that the only companies that can afford to get a drug through the approval process are the largest ones with the deepest pockets.  And even those companies can’t do it after having invested billions of dollars in research.  If you are a small biotech, the costs of verifying that your lead compound meets the increasingly more stringent safety profiles is cost prohibitive.  No matter how hard you work for how long, it is more and more likely that you will have to sell your miracle drug patent to a large pharma at a fraction of its potential earnings just in order to recoup your investment.  The drug industry news is full of small biotechs having to lay off their entire research staff in order to take their discovery through the next phase of development.  That throws the research community into ever increasing precariousness, diminishing the prospects of young scientists and discourages students from pursuing science as a career.  And that, in turn, is eventually going to affect the quality of academic research upon which many big multinationals now intend to feed.  I’m still predicting that the brains are going to go to western Europe to do research because governments there still have a commitment to education and protecting their workforce.

Our research capabilities in this country have shrunk profoundly in the last 5 years.  We don’t introduce many drugs to the market anymore.  What is in research are new, even more expensive technologies.  But since the research community is much smaller, there is a bottleneck we have imposed on research.  Only a tiny fraction of the potential is being investigated now.  It’s primarily centered around cancer, which is very important, of course.  But what if your problem isn’t cancer?  What if you just need your thyroid medication?  Or your generic ADD medication?  Well, there’s no money in generics and to repair the plants is expensive and that eats into “shareholder value”.  So, the cost of generics is going to have to go up.  The result will be more expensive generics as patents expire, more older generation drugs for everyone, a few very expensive newer drugs for those that can afford them and the cost borne by all of us.

The plutocrats and their political allies have allowed this to happen.  They have overvalued their own importance and undervalued the importance of everyone else.  They have put the attainment of money and the acquisition of power at the pinnacle of the greatest of human achievements and have demoted the quest for knowledge.

Chrystia Freeland makes some interesting points in her discussion with Sam Seder on the nature of money and plutocracy.  She has talked to plutocrats of the Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg variety.  And they have told her that to the billionaire and the mailman, a Big Mac is still a Big Mac.  In other words, you can only consume so much in your lifetime.  Even if you buy the best of everything and search out the most perfect experiences, you may have more money than you will ever be able to use in your life.  Of course, a perfect experience to one person may not be a perfect experience to another.  For example, I’ve lived close enough to NYC to see many Broadway plays in the 20+ years I’ve been in New Jersey.  At this point, Broadway is no big deal to me anymore.  Oh, sure, I’d love to see the Book of Mormon but I could be content to see the touring company at a opera house in a smaller city.  The performances are going to be pretty much the same.  Maybe I would miss the lights of Times Square afterwards but I’ve been there so many times that it’s not a heartstopping thrill anymore.  There are other things that are interesting that don’t cost much money.  I still like Big Macs.

A similar observation can be made about the nature of work.  I understand that billionaires these days are the “working rich” and that their days are filled to the brim with lots of thinking and decision making and that those thoughts and decisions affect thousands of people.  But then I think about how hard my colleagues and I worked in the last year we were employed and those days were also filled to the brim with thoughts and decision making that affect thousands of people.  Just because we did a lot of it on our feet or with our hands as well as our minds does not make it less important to the world.  It is hard to see how Mark Zuckerberg could be working harder than we did in absolute terms.  In other words, to the billionaire and the drug discoverers, there are still only 24 hours in a day and some of those hours are taken up with sleeping, eating and excreting.  I suppose you could eat your lunch at your desk while you multi-task.  Yep, we did that too.

So, it’s not consumables that set us apart except in quantity and quality because taste and temperament may play a role.  And it’s not the degree of hard work or time because we all face the same time constraints.  And it’s not genius because I worked with a lot of extraordinarily smart people who were not rich and know some extraordinarily rich people who are not smart.

What it seems to be the crucial component is being, or being born, in the right place at the right time with the right idea for which you can capture a market or schmooze your way to the top of the corporate ladder or gamble away other peoples’ money at the global casino.  It is this elusive property of being struck by lightning at least once in your lifetime that counts.  And with that once in a lifetime experience, you can dictate the lives of others, elevate your own contributions and denigrate theirs.

And ruin the drug supply.

8 Responses

  1. Terrific post…it’s true and it’s cause we are a 3rd world nation now

    I’m still predicting that the brains are going to go to western Europe to do research because governments there still have a commitment to education and protecting their workforce

    well sure….for now. But they seem to be longing to ape our cannibalistic capitalism business model…just a bit behind .

    Research will be done somewhere and the results given to the wealthy as far as I can see.

    We peons will eventually need to find a someone well versed in herbs for our health care… However at least mudwort doesn’t cause ” suicidal thoughts”

    • A co-worker mentioned reading in an article that approximately 18,000 US citizens are no more. Seeing how the landscape has devolved back home and tired of paying taxes the Romney types don’t they said good-bye to their citizenship.

      But then I’ve been telling college students to take a language minor and do just this for the past couple of years.

    • As long as the only people with income security are the financier class, the smart will pursue jobs in finance. Or they will become professionals like doctors. Why should they go into science? It’s too difficult to make a living and support your experiment habit. And when you are consumed with how you’re going to make your rent and pay your doctor all the time, it’s hard to think creatively or concentrate.
      So, I think science will become the playground of the wealthy as well. We’ll go back to the days when only the well off could afford their own laboratories.
      I don’t think the motu are going to get the ROI in china that they thought. Yes, there are a lot of well trained people there but the business environment is not there yet. And the best trained people, the creme de la creme, don’t want to stay in china and india.They used to come here. But now they’ll go to Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia.
      Meanwhile, there is a revolution happening in biology and when we should be throwing all of our resources at it, the financiers are playing a game to see where they can get the cheapest labor.
      It’s so unbelievably stupid and anti-modern that it’s hard to believe we are letting them get away with it with zero intervention to look after the interests of the human race in general.

      I blame the Obots.

  2. Obama names head of drone assassination program to lead CIA


    President Barack Obama on Monday named his counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, to head the Central Intelligence Agency in his second term

    ….In his remarks Monday, Obama once again boasted of “taking out Osama bin Laden,” an operation that was overseen by Brennan. He again invoked the “war on terror” to justify war crimes abroad and the ripping up of democratic rights at home, ignoring the de facto alliance Washington has established with Al Qaeda-linked jihadist elements in Libya and Syria.

    With unbridled cynicism, Obama declared: “There’s another reason I value John so much, and that is his integrity and his commitment to the values that define us as Americans. He has worked to embed our efforts in a strong legal framework. He understands we are a nation of laws


  3. A single death is a tragedy; 50,000 is a statistic. It is an old saying and still true. Look at a list of the top selling prescription drugs and a number of things pop up. (newtown with 20+ deaths was a megs tragedy).

    No manufacturer dominates the list. The top 9 drugs have nine different manufacturers. Amgen has the number seven and ten selling drugs (by sales volume).

    Each of the billion dollar sales drugs (there are seven) are household names due to incessant TV ads.

    The top selling drugs serve large markets more than big needs. The number one prescription drug is nexium. Behavioral drugs are the most common type in the billion dollar cluster. A cure for cancer is less likely to be found than a help for stomach problems because the market is much smaller. (especially if cancer is more a cluster of diseases than a single disease).

    Dollar sales plummet when patent protection is gone.

    Although “progressives” target pharmaceuticals, far more “waste” in the American system goes to insurance companies. Insurance companies treat expensive or semi-expensive prescriptions like they are gold, forcing patients to refill at the last possible moment. Most prescriptions can be filled within a week or so of the due date. Personally, I would tend to think that this over-cost-conscious approach leads to at least some un-needed deaths and likely added costs from the expensive hospitalizations.

    Despite image to the contrary, Viagra is no where near the top ten with IIRC $276 million in sales. Something like number 48.

  4. I would tend to think that this over-cost-conscious approach leads to at least some un-needed deaths and likely added costs from the expensive hospitalizations

    Indeed. That’s seems the idea. Remember when we were told we get medically tested” too much” lol.

    Clearly the added deaths part doesn’t bother them , or we would not be where we are even today. I think they feel a % of expensive hospitalizations is a good bet if they can cut the many from actual health care….while charging $$ $$ for it of course

    The uninsured are not the only ones slated to pay for health care not recieved …thier is the more outrageous case however …the insured at least have a chance at getting care …so far.

  5. I have read that Davos is for rich importancy-seeking wannabes, and
    Bohemian Grove is for the OverClass’s Head Butlers and Chief Footmen. The more powerful people and their most valuable Manchurian Henchmen/Henchwomen meet at The Builderberg Society.
    And the most powerful people probably gather under names and in places whose existence we don’t even know.

    If we can understand enough of the grid of power and the lines and webs of control, can we destroy this grid and severcut all these lines and webs . . . even if we don’t know the personal name of every node?

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