Friday, April 27, 2007



Did you watch the Democratic presidential debate last night? I had just gotten in from the airport and someone called me and said it was on. I had missed half of it but I got to see a question-- and Hillary answer-- I liked. The question was about WalMart-- is it good for America or bad for America? Hillary answered well enough ("It's a mixed blessing"), but it was the articulation of her underlying philosophy of government-- and how it contrasts with the Bush Regime's-- that I liked. She explained that when WalMart started-- in Arkansas, where her husband was governor-- it was really good, bringing jobs and otherwise unavailable products, and at good prices, to small towns. And then the important underlying "but." This isn't a Jeffersonian Arcadian society made up of lots of small freeholders-- and this sprawling, urbanized, complex, post-industrial society of 300 million ain't going to be that again. The problems with WalMart is that the society isn't setting rules under which it should be operating, rules that protect the legitimate interests of society. She reminded us that that's what Democrats do. Republicans leave it to the imaginary "free market"-- and we get dead pets or, dead grandparents.

Yesterday Congress attempted to deal with quite a few health care concerns, the kinds of concerns that individual members of a mass society are ill-equipped to cope with on their own. I'll get to those in a moment. First though, I want to recommend a piece my friend Cliff Schecter wrote for the AFL-CIO that shows what ordinary Americans are up against when dealing with the big Health Care Husters.
You may know Big Pharma as the quality folks responsible for driving up the price of prescriptions throughout the 50 states by successfully lobbying Congress for a ban on allowing the government to negotiate lower prices for Medicare recipients. Or perhaps for the longtime U.S. ban on allowing Americans to import their prescription drugs from Canada, where they often are half the price of what they cost here.

Today, one of the representatives of Big Pharma, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, got a visit from some of its Working America friends at the company's annual meeting in Morristown, N.J. The guests included a “Canadian moose,” which the executives may have glimpsed on their way from the seaweed rap to the deep-tissue massage. But, hey, they can run to the Jacuzzi, but they can’t hide.

Wyeth has implemented a policy of reducing supplies of its drugs to Canadian wholesalers and pharmacies that sell life-saving medicines to Americans who make the cross-border trip because “they are left with no other choice.”

Who said Big Business doesn't have a heart?

The Health Care Hustle campaign reminded those at the Wyeth stockholder meeting, as well as others across the nation, that our health care system does not have to be this way. It can serve the interests of the American people instead of the American aristocracy.

Let the Wyeths be warned. American workers demand that we fix this broken system and replace it with one that serves all of us.

On a personal level, I'm more into homeopathic and holistic health care. So why should I care about the screwed up health care system? Well, aside for the natural empathy I feel for my fellow human beings who still eat sugar and flour and cancer causing processed foods, the Corporate America is constantly trying to destroy the holistic approach to healthcare. This is from a letter I got yesterday:
There is a crisis in health freedom. On April 30, 2007 the FDA will close the public comment period on a "Guidance" which will classify every alternative practice as medicine so that only licensed physicians can carry out the procedure AND vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc., will suddenly become "untested drugs" which will be forbidden.

Bad? Real Bad! But public outcry can stop this assault on your health and your freedom.

Spread the word! Tell everyone in your Circle of Influence, professionals, alternative practitioners, nutrient and herb companies, everyone! Let them know how important their participation is to make sure the FDA backs off from this repressive course.

I would think the FDA has some real work to do now that their lapdog posture towards Corporate Health has led to the deaths of hundreds (thousands?) of pets and possibly to the introduction of poison into our food system.

Congress is overwhelmed keeping up with their perfidy. Yesterday global health activists and Big Pharma were duking it out over Thailand's decision to override patents for three drugs, including Abbott Laboratories' HIV/AIDS treatment Kaletra. USA for Innovation, an intellectual property rights group funded by Big Pharma for whom it shills, this week asked the Bush Regime's Trade Representative to label Thailand a violator in its annual report of intellectual property concerns abroad. Activists representing Thai NGOs met with lawmakers in Washington seeking to counter Big Pharma's moves. "We want the U.S. government to show it cares about access to life-saving drugs in the developing world," said Jon Ungphakorn, a former member of Thailand's Senate. Thailand needs to break patents on Kaletra and other drugs to deliver needed treatments under its universal healthcare system, which its health budget cannot afford. Abbott Labs provoked anger and despair in Thailand and from health activists when it announced in March that it would take seven other drugs off the market in Thailand in retaliation for the Thai compulsory license. (Nor do you have to go all the way to Thailand to see how Corporate Health and their Republican allies treat healthcare as a profitable commodity with little regard for people's lives-- other than their own.)

At the same time, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced it is seeking information from the FDA on antibiotic use in animals and the potential for humans to contract antibiotic-resistant bacteria infections as part of its inquiry into how well the agency addresses drug safety. FDA has allowed antibiotic use in healthy animals, as well as sick, for 40 years. "At a minimum, great caution should be exercised in the approval of new veterinary applications for antibiotics," wrote Energy and Commerce Chairman Dingell, ranking member Joe Barton (R-TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak (D-MI), and ranking member Edward Whitfield, (R-KY).

And yesterday, over on the Senate side of Capitol Hill, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) unveiled legislation to reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program to 6 million kids within 10 years. The controversy comes because both Rockefeller and Snowe indicated a willingness to tap extra payments to Medicare Advantage as one option to pay for their SCHIP proposal. We'll see how Snowe's GOP colleagues, more prone to repay corporate bribes with complete obeisance to the BIg Pharma/Corporate Medicine agenda.

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At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it OK to import everything else from cheap overseas suppliers but not pharmaceuticals? HMMMMM????
Does anyone want to guess?


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