By Emily Alpert, Los Angeles Times
May 21, 2013
Salt Lake City: the gay parenting capital of the United States?
Unexpected as it may sound, a new study finds that the Utah capital and its outskirts have the nation’s highest percentage of gay or lesbian couples raising children.
Among couples of the same sex in the Salt Lake City area, more than 1 in 4 are rearing children, the analysis of census data reveals.
That fact may seem at odds with perceptions that San Francisco and New York are the centers of gay and lesbian life. Pop culture depicts gays and lesbians turning to adoption, sperm banks or surrogacy to form families in decidedly liberal cities such as Los Angeles.
May 20, 2013 — A new report suggests that improved health care and significant reductions in drug costs might be attained by breaking up the age-old relationship between physicians and drug company representatives who promote the newest, more costly and often unnecessary prescription drugs.
This system, which has been in place for decades, at one time benefited doctors by keeping them up to date on new medications, and always provided generous amounts of “free” samples to get patients started on the newest drugs, as well as other supplies and gifts.
But it’s actually a powerful marketing process into which the pharmaceutical industry pours tens of billions of dollars a year, with more than 90,000 drug representatives providing gifts and advice. There is one drug representative for every eight doctors in the United States. This doesn’t necessarily serve the best interests of the patient in terms of economy, efficacy, safety or accuracy of information, experts say.
In one of the first reports of its type — titled “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” — researchers from Oregon State University, Oregon Health & Science University and the University of Washington outlined the deliberate process that one central Oregon medical clinic went through to remove drug company representatives from their practice. It explored the obstacles they faced and the ultimate, successful result. The findings were just published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.
The study found that avoiding conflicts of interest and becoming “pharma-free” is possible, but not easy.
“This is a culture change, one that’s already happening but still has a ways to go, especially in smaller private practices,” said Dr. David Evans, now with the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington, and previously a physician at the Madras, Ore., clinic featured in the article.
“The relationship between physicians and drug company representatives goes back generations, and it took a methodical, deliberate campaign to change it,” Evans said. “We ultimately decided something had to be done when our medical clinic was visited by drug reps 199 times in six months. That number was just staggering.”
Part of what allows the change, the researchers said, is that information on new medications is now available in many other forums. These may have less bias and be more evidence-based than the material traditionally provided by the pharmaceutical industry, which wanted to sell the latest product. In the Madras clinic, the physicians replaced information previously supplied by drug reps with monthly meetings to stay current on new medications, based on peer-reviewed, rather than promotional literature.
“In the past 5-10 years there’s been more of a move toward what we call ‘academic detailing,’ in which universities and other impartial sources of information can provide accurate information without bias,” said Daniel Hartung, assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy. “This is being supported by some states and the federal government, and it’s a move in the right direction.”
Moves to separate the drug industry from the practice of medicine have been more aggressive in large medical teaching hospitals, Hartung said, but much less so in smaller private practice. Of the 800,000 physicians in the U.S., only 22 percent practice in academic settings, the study noted, and 84 percent of primary care physicians still have close relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.
The stakes can be high, the researchers said. In the study example, the “sample cabinet” of medications at the Madras clinic, provided for free by the pharmaceutical representatives, had an average price of $90 for a month’s supply of the medications. Less expensive, generic medications were identified for 38 of the 46 sample drugs, which would have cost $22 a month.
The new analysis explored the necessary steps that a private clinic can take to help address this concern, including quantifying the clinic-industry relationship, anticipating clinician and staff concerns, finding new ways to provide up-to-date information, and educating patients and the public
So let’s do a quick analysis using facts from this study, shall we?
For a “sample cabinet” of drugs”:
# Drugs x Cost = Total
Pharma Drugs 46 x $90 = $4140
Generics 38 x $22 = $836
Pharma Drugs with no generic substitute 8 x $90 = $720
So the total cost of the “sample cabinet” filled with Pharma Drugs is $4140
And the total cost of the “sample cabinet” filled with Generics plus Pharma drugs that can’t be replaced by Generics is $836 $720 = $1556.
So the percentage increase in the cost of the drugs in the “sample cabinet” due to Pharma Sales efforts is ($4140 - $1556) / $4140 = 62%
Then, let’s calculate what it costs the US Healthcare System to pay for these Pharma Sales Reps:
The study says that there are 90,000 Pharma Reps in the US. And if we estimate that the costs are $300,000 / yr (that includes salary, bene’s, travel, sales promos, gifts, speaker programs etc) then the total cost is 90,000 x $300,000 = $27B / yr.
So the US Health Care System spends $27 B / yr so that we pay 62% more for our drugs.
Nice business model if you’ve got the money to pay the lobbyists to keep the govt from interfering. Oops, I forgot, we pay for that too!
PS - When Categorizing this, I was going to choose “Health” but since this has nothing to do with that I chose “Business” instead.
Are you ready for the imagery war — the war against personal photography and capturing of video? You’d better be.
In some cities, like New York, the surveillance-industrial complex has its fangs deeply into government for the big bucks. It’s there we heard the Police Commissioner — just hours ago, really — claim that “privacy is off the table.”
But what about the personal photography and video side? What of individual or corporate use of these technologies in public and private spaces?
Will the same politicians promoting government surveillance in all its glory take a similar stance toward nongovernmental applications?
Writing already on the wall suggests not.
“Citizen Koch,” a documentary about money in politics focused on the Wisconsin uprising, was shunned by PBS for fear of offending billionaire industrialist David Koch, who has given $23 million to public television, according to Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. The dispute highlights the increasing role of private money in “public” television and raises even further concerns about the Kochs potentially purchasing eight major daily newspapers.
The film from Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Carl Deal and Tia Lessin documents how the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision helped pave the way for secret political spending by players like the Kochs, who contributed directly and indirectly to the election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in 2010 and came to his aid again when the battle broke out over his effort to limit collective bargaining.
Originally slated to appear on PBS stations nationwide as part of the “Independent Lens” series, “Citizen Koch” had its funding pulled after David Koch was offended by another PBS documentary critical of the billionaire industrialists.
“People like the Kochs have worked for decades to undermine public funding for institutions like PBS,” Deal told the Center for Media and Democracy. “When public dollars dry up, private dollars come in to make up for the shortfall.”
And that private funding can conflict with PBS’ “public” mission and its editorial integrity. The PBS distributor “backed out of the partnership because they came to fear the reaction our film would provoke,” Deal and Lessin said in a statement. “David Koch, whose political activities are featured in the film, happens to be a public-television funder and a trustee of both [New York PBS member station] WNET and [Boston member station] WGBH. This wasn’t a failed negotiation or a divergence of visions; it was censorship, pure and simple.”
Global warming isn’t happening, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) argued over the weekend, pointing to the fact that it was snowing in Alaska in May.
“Global warming my gluteus maximus,” she wrote in a post on her Facebook page, adding a small dose of politics to a picture of her youngest daughter Piper in the snow after graduation. “This is what ‘Grad Blast’ means in Alaska! We’ll move our graduation b-b-q indoors and watch the mini-blizzard from ‘round the fireplace.”
Palin has been a reliable denier of climate science in the past. She’s referred to studies supporting climate change models as “snake oil,” and as a vice presidential candidate in 2008, she argued that humans haven’t influenced changes in climate.
In her Facebook argument, Palin confuses weather with climate, a mistake frequently made by climate change deniers. Palin has made this blunder in the past, suggesting that local atmospheric conditions over short periods of time and small areas have bearing on larger trends averaged over long time periods and greater areas.
The Secret Service is following up on recent comments by right wing radio host Pete Santilli, who claimed to want to shoot former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the vagina and see President Obama tried and shot for treason.
“We are aware of Mr. Santilli’s comments and will take the appropriate follow up action,” Edwin M. Donovan, a Secret Service spokesperson, told TPM on Monday. “He certainly has a right to free speech, but the Secret Service has a right and an obligation to determine what a person’s intent is when making comments like this.”
But just when you thought it was about as bad as it could be… oh, that’s just the beginning for this wack-job.
‘Miss Hillary Clinton needs to be convicted, she needs to be tried, convicted and shot in the vagina,” he said. “I wanna pull the trigger. That ‘C U Next Tuesday’ has killed human beings that are in our ranks of our service. I want to remind you that in Benghazi, Miss Hillary ‘the fricken’ biggest vagina on the face of the planet’ told troops to stand down and to not go in and interfere with the operation that they set up because they’re moving arms; Barack Obama is moving drugs through the CIA out of Afghanistan and Barack Obama needs to be tried, convicted, and shot for crimes against the United States of America.”
Of course, he will state he is just ‘stating his opinion’ which is true, that he’s not suggesting that anybody DO it, that it be a judicial process (I’m not sure what part of the Fed Law covers “Execution by Shooting in Vagina” however). I suspect that he very carefully parsed his statements so that they could not be considered a “Call To Action”.
I’m just not sure how much lower an individual can sink, but it’s still early in the year, so I’m sure that yet further lows will be met.
If it weren’t for Ray Manzarek, the world would never know the genius of Jim Morrison.
Ray Manzarek, the founding keyboardist for the Doors, passed away this morning in Germany, according to a statement from his publicist. The cause was bile duct cancer.
As a member of the legendary rock band that formed in 1965 in Los Angeles and effectively ended with the death of frontman Jim Morrison in 1971 (though the group continued to perform and release music in other iterations for many years), Manzarek became an enduring symbol of the era — he was portrayed by Kyle McLachlan in the 1991 Oliver Stone biopic The Doors, and wrote a best-selling memoir about his experiences, Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors, in 1998.
And here is Ray at his finest, the organ solo from “Light My Fire.”
Louisiana’s legislators are continuing their legislative jihad to keep the theory of evolution out of the state’s public school science classrooms. On 1 May, legislators killed a bill to repeal Louisiana’s creationism law, the misnamed Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA).
The law allows non-science to be snuck into science classrooms by teachers who use supplemental materials to “critique” politically controversial (but not scientifically controversial) theories, including evolution and climate science. Despite this loophole for creationism created by the LSEA, educators are still required to teach “material presented in the standard textbook”, which includes the theory of evolution.
It’s not easy to be a socially responsible consumer. Even if you buy mostly local products and diligently keep track of corporate environmental footprints, you may still be leaving a trail of slaves in your wake. After all, who do you think is digging up the minerals in your smartphone or picking the cotton for your T-shirts? Slavery Footprint, a new website and mobile app that launched today (the 149th anniversary of the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation) can tell you approximately how many slaves have pitched in to make the goods you enjoy on a daily basis.
The top Republican and Democrat on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs are demanding more information from defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about lost Army field records from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the subject of a ProPublica investigation last year.
In an unusually detailed letter sent Friday to Hagel, Reps. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Michael Michaud, D-Maine, said the Defense Department’s response to an earlier request about why records are missing — and what the military is doing about it — didn’t go far enough.
“Congress must have a clear understanding of the extent of the lost records in order to safeguard the best interests of our service members and veterans,” the letter says.
The 12 questions posed to Hagel in the letter focus largely on the Army because it has the largest records deficit. Among other things, the congressmen want to know what happened to operational records for the 1st Armored Division and the 82nd Airborne Division and what is being done to reconstruct them.
In November, ProPublica and the Seattle Times reported that they were among numerous Army units that had lost or failed to keep battlefield records as required, making it harder for some veterans to obtain benefits and for historians to recount what actually happened.