Saturday, November 11, 2017

VOTER FRAUD

       The Voter Fraud Commission would do well to forget  about  chasing rumors of fraud aimed to confirm the President’s suspicions.  It should instead pay attention to  a single case of flagrant  voter fraud  that is presumed to be okay, though constitutionally extremely doubtful.
Some states arrogate to themselves a “winner take all”  policy in determining the electoral college vote. 
        In other words, regardless of how you voted, they tell you how you voted. If this is not voter fraud on an immense  scale, I challenge anyone to dispute it and I doubt that the Constitution permits it.   

Thursday, October 19, 2017

CORPORATE PERFIDY REVISITED

The recent onset of an opioid crisis in the country, the direct result of complicity between  legislators and big pharma. allowing big pharma to flood the country with pills, and also a money hungry media, arguably the nation's biggest drug pushers, who will advertise anything to bring in money, prompts me to post again the blog, CORPORATE PERFIDY, covering my own bitter experience, which I first published is September, 2012. 
It is worth noting that complaints to the FDA evoked a reply that my problem was experienced by 1% of people treated, and that is considered to be acceptable, despite the occurrence of permanent damage.

CORPORATE PERFIDY

      Warfarin was developed in 1948 as a pesticide. It functioned as a blood thinner. Pests like rats that consumed food to which warfarin was added died from internal bleeding. In the course of time, it became an object of interest as a means of preventing thrombosis in many physical disorders such as development of clotting following a joint replacement. Conclusions about its efficacy were firmed up in the early 1950’s and approved for treatment of humans in 1954. It has been used successfully ever since.
      Drawbacks are danger of bleeding and interaction with certain foods like leafy vegetables and some medications. The protime, INR, has to be monitored and kept within limits. Visits to clinics to have INR checked are a nuisance and could be every few days until stability is reached. Time between checks may be extended as the patient reaches a plateau in living pattern and food ingestion. Over time, safe usage of warfarin, or coumadin by another name, has lost any mystery and has become routine. Other than the possibility of bleeding, there are no known side effects that result in physical impairment. An advantage, insofar as the patient is concerned, is the low cost. Of course, pharmaceutical firms cannot be expected to support this medication and will naturally spend research money to come up with money makers that do the same job as warfarin.
      Hence the appearance of anticoagulants like Plavix, which, by astute marketing, its developers have captured a fair share of the market. Besides the risk of bleeding, which is not significantly different from controlled warfarin dosage, these compounds have other side effects, some of which are physically debilitating. One such effect, claimed to be rare, which I happen to be familiar with, is an onset of sudden numbness down the left side of the body after just a few days of  taking the medication. Bristol-Myers, which makes Plavix, doesn’t make much of it, though they do list it as a side effect, (recently delisted!) and cautions that one should immediately report to their doctor in the event that it occurs. Paradoxically, doctors seem to know nothing about it. My own experience draws from consulting a dozen local neurologists and cardiologists about the affliction, and none were helpful. At the very least one or two could have lifted the phone and called Bristol-Myers and said: “Hey, I’ve got a guy here whose left side has gone numb from taking Plavix. Can you tell me something about it?” My own attempts to contact the company went unanswered except for a request for a sample from the prescription bottle which by then had been used up.Meantime, for anyone who suffers from this side effect, it isn’t going to go away so long it is reinforced every day. And it may never go away if permanent damage has been sustained. Patient complaints on the internet indicate that the problem is more common than is publicized.
      Meantime, the pharmaceutical firms, happily selling expensive Plavix pills, and aware that warfarin is still widely used, look for other ways to ease that medication out of the market with products like Plavix but with different names.
      One can imagine a scene, high up on the top floor of the Pistol-Fires Pharmaceutical headquarters building in the mahogany lined conference room. (Of course, the names and titles are imaginary too.
      On this particular morning Zachary Taylor Bremerton III, vice-president of marketing, has an idea while shaving before traveling to work in the chauffeured company car. Perks are good for administrators of his status. Upon arriving at work, he calls a meeting of his marketing underlings and product experts for a brain storming session.
      “It’s like this,” he says, addressing the gathering of bright young women and men and a scattering of middle-agers: “We’re doing pretty well with Slavix, but haven’t yet scratched the potential.... not so long as warfarin is the preferred medication. And you know full well, cheap as it is, we can’t make a nickel on it. So...........,” he looks about the room, “any ideas?” For a while it is quiet. Then, hesitantly, one idea after another idea is floated. It is Bremerton’s habit to dispose of ideas he doesn’t like with a wrinkle of his nose.
       Finally, up and coming, street smart, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, MBA graduate of Wharton School of Business Joe Paskudnik speaks up. “Well,” he says, “there’s Cataxiban.” 
   “What about Cataxiban?”  
    “It’s been there sitting on the shelf for a year. We spent a lot of money developing it with Scyther. Trouble is, it’s too much like Slavix. But that might be a minor disadvantage. Advantage is that not many know about it, though all the approvals are in order. We take over the whole warfarin market. No small steps. A major push. What we need to do is give warfarin a bad rap, then move in.”
     “Great idea.” Bremerton sounds skeptical, but this one sounds far out enough to give it a little attention.
      "Go on."
      “Warfarin’s got  disadvantages. INR has to be checked every so often. Patients don’t like having to run into the clinic every few days.... a pain in the butt for clinics. Also the bleeding problem, we can make a lot out of that......high risk."
      No one suggests that self-testing for INR could soon become routine.
      “Any similar risk with Cataxiban?”
      “Well..... yes. They are very close. Warfarin is a shade worse.”
      Poor Joe’s closest encounter with truth. Really too close to call. He plunges on.  "We mount up a major campaign. Make warfarin look bad and at the same time tout the advantages of Cataxiban. Less risk of stroke. Papers, television, the internet.....anywhere people will stop, look and listen. Prescribe two pills a day at.. say nine dollars a pill. That’s a lot better... for us... than thirty cents a day for warfarin.“
      Bremerton looks about the room. He sees approving smiles, heads nodding, shining eyes. His fingers mesh and unmesh. “Paskudnik, You’re going to go far,” he said. “That’s all folks.” The group files out.
      Bremerton speaks to his secretary via the intercom. “Maria, get me Vice-President Jim Disher at Scyther headquarters.” He gets up and starts to pace the room. “This is gonna be big,” he mutters.
      Admittedly, the above didn’t happen exactly as portrayed. But something like it did. A short time ago an article appeared in the New York Times reporting that Bristol-Myers and Phizer had obtained FDA approval for a new drug, Apixaban, also under the generic name Eliquis, that is proclaimed to be safer than warfarin from the standpoint of bleeding risk. Comparison reports (New England Journal of Medicine, Aug 29) don’t confirm that there is much difference, if any. But in recent weeks we have seen a blow-out advertising campaign..... full-page ads in newspapers,.....long television commercials, countless internet ads trumpeting superiority over warfarin and warnings about potential strokes with that medication. Enough to scare the innocent witless. 
      Quite the same as the appearance of Tono Bungay in H.G. Wells’ novel of the same title,wherein, as George Ponderevo, he helped his uncle Sidney Ewart launch an elixir called Tono Bungay, on which he built an enormous fortune.
      Amusing, if it were not so serious, is the litany of side effects, which are similar to Plavix. Some are not noted.....MAY CAUSE SUDDEN NUMBNESS DOWN THE LEFT SIDE OF BODY. But the warning does appear elsewhere.
      Gullible as anyone, I signed up for the pill. Nine dollars each.. Two pills daily. If anything, the medication has exacerbated the numbness problem.
     Articles of complaint aren’t too interesting if a concluding comment is not offered that recommends improvement in a situation.
      My observation is that one step further must be taken. FDA approval should not be the gate opener for launching a new medication on the public. There is too much at stake.
      My recommendation is that the AMA should establish a review board comprised of professionals over the age of sixty who have been around the block. They would study every FDA approval and deliver a message to the medical community and the public regarding its merits against their experience and whether a replacement should even be considered in light of that experience. Board members would be salaried and would be selected out of a slate that has no prior connection with pharmaceutical companies on any level other than normal exposure to sales for learning purposes.
Posted by Edward Hujsak at 4:59 PM No comments:  
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Saturday, October 7, 2017

GO BOLDLY

As a  sometime author, I find it awful that the company that operates under the name, "Go Boldly," would boldly follow the amoral path of using (plagiarizing?)   lines  of a famous , internationally revered poet in order to bolster  marketing whatever it is that they do. Literates in this company (there must be some) are taking the low road.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

THREE MILLION YEAR OLD SKULL

Sometimes I imagine these worn teeth, 
 chattering high up in the jungle vines
where you sought shelter, where down
below a saber tooth tiger paces.
When you turn your head just right
the moonlight reveals the panic
in your eyes. You don't even know
if you will survive tomorrow.

How could you know that with
the first wooden club you used to
open nuts and shells by the sea shore,
you had discovered the principle 
of applied force, that would allow
you to do anything, even vanquish 
your mortal enemies, like the tiger
that waits below?

How could you know the principle
of applied force would lead to tensioned 
bows, spears, axes and knives, gunpowder,
cannons, atomic bombs, travel to the moon 
that mysteriously waxes and wanes and
illuminates your nights?

How could you know the principle 
of applied force would let you dominate,
propagate in large numbers, scatter across
Earth and plunder her? Did you think
that of all the wildlife around you, 
you would be the anointed one?

How could you know that one day
I would be seated here, holding you
in my hands, blessed with thought,
intuition and emotion, trying to figure
just how it was that we got here? 


Sunday, August 13, 2017

CREDO

        Everyone possesses a finer self and a less-than-finer self. The eternal struggle is which is allowed to, or made to, triumph over the other.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

GOOD BYE, CHARLIE



     I’m finding it odd that the title of this story is the same as the title of the first story in my short story book (though in that case it was science fiction).
     Charlie Bierman and I became acquainted in the early days when we both worked for General Dynamics on the design and development of the Atlas ICBM propulsion system. Eventually our careers took separate directions, so over the years we seldom crossed paths. We retired to private life at approximately the same time.
     Among other things I wanted to do was to design and build fine furniture. I decided to join the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association and attended one of their monthly meetings. Lo and behold, there was Charlie, presiding at a table laden with hand crafted toys. Charlie described the Association’s toy program in which members make toys which are then distributed to under -privileged kids around San Diego County, including children at Camp Pendleton whose parents were in the Far East on active duty. 
     Toy making! What could be better? I decided then and there that I would join the effort, figuring that furniture making would leave lots of scrap lumber that could be put to good use.
Toy making became Charlie’s whole life. He met with toy making colleagues weekly in an El Cajon shop where he and his friends designed and crafted an assortment of toys, all of which were distributed by the Association. On occasion they came up with a design where their spouses could add touches such a painted decorations and sewed object like blankets for cribs. Charlie told me once that over the years, more than ten thousand toys had been distributed,
     Charlie carried his talents further, teaching toymaking to students at Palomar College, and participating in President Carter’s Habitats for Humanity” The construction program was geared to construct a home in a single day to help people in poorer regions.
      I met Helen, Charlie's charming wife, when I delivered toys to his home. More often than not, she would  be seated at a table, reading, a few feet away from where Charlie was working in the garage/workshop.
     As the years progressed, work never stopped, though it existed, perhaps at a more relaxed pace. In my case serious illness stopped it altogether, but it was great therapy during recovery. I grew too old to drive and relied on Charlie to come to my home to pick up toys. Still later, when Charlie stopped driving, good friend Eric Robinson provided transportation to pick up added toys from my home workshop. Those occasions were always a great time for reminiscences, recalling our rocket days, and chatting about current issues, like comparing our remarkable pacemakers.
     One day recently, I called Charlie’s number, as I had another batch of toys ready for pickup. Charlie wasn’t there but a message said that he would call back. Later in the day Eric e-mailed me that Charlie had suffered a fatal fall the previous evening. Charlie was ninety-four.
     After some moments of reflection and sadness, all I could say to my good friend, wherever he is, was “Good Bye, Charlie.” 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

PROPAGANDA MACHINE?

The word is that in line with his battles  with the press, Donald Trump will have his own news broadcasts. Maybe Steve Miller will head it.
It brings to mind sometime in the past , when Adolph Hitler put Joseph Goebbels in business on a similar mission.