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charlesarthur : drugs   12

Why prescription drugs cost so much more in America • Financial Times
Hannah Kuchler:
<p>All over the world, drugmakers are granted time-limited monopolies — in the form of patents — to encourage innovation. But America is one of the only countries that does not combine this carrot with the stick of price controls. 

The US government’s refusal to negotiate prices has contributed to spiralling healthcare costs which, said billionaire investor Warren Buffett last year, act “as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy”. Medical bills are the primary reason why Americans go bankrupt. Employers foot much of the bill for the majority of health-insurance plans for working-age adults, creating a huge cost for business.

In February, Congress called in executives from seven of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and asked them: why do drugs here cost so much? The drugmakers’ answer is that America is carrying the cost of research and development for the rest of the world. They argue that if Americans stopped paying such high prices for drugs, investment in innovative treatments would fall. President Trump agrees with this argument, in line with his “America first” narrative, which sees other countries as guilty of freeloading.

For the patients on the trip, the notion is galling: insulin was discovered 100 years ago, by scientists in Canada who sold the patent to the University of Toronto for just $1. The medication has been improved since then but there seems to have been no major innovation to justify tripling the list price for insulin, as happened in the US between 2002 and 2013.</p>


Insulin is just one of the many, many cases where Americans are being ripped off by drugs companies.
drugs  prescription  america  price 
4 weeks ago by charlesarthur
An algorithm is attempting to block drug deals at UK Wi-Fi kiosks • Engadget
Christine Fisher:
<p>The InLink kiosks installed throughout the UK were meant to replace payphones and provide free calls, ultra-fast WiFi and phone charging. But it wasn't long before they became a hotbed for drug dealing. Rather than do away with the free phone service, British telecom company BT and InLinkUK developed an algorithm to automatically block and disable "antisocial" calls.

The algorithm uses the frequency of attempted and connected calls, their length and distribution and insights provided by police to identify suspicious patterns and phone numbers. It can then automatically block those numbers. It's already been deployed across all of the InLinkUK kiosks.

Before the system was in place, drug dealers reportedly arranged 20,000 sales from just five kiosks in a 15-week period. A separate kiosk was used to facilitate £1.28m in drug sales (about $1.68m). But BT and InLinkUK say less than half a percent of the total calls across the InLink network are associated with antisocial behavior. And the company believes its new algorithm has already solved the problem.</p>


It was so obvious that free phone services would be abused. And now the solution is technology? It won't take long before this is figured out; apart from anything, there's money to be made, so people will find out how to defeat it. There, at least, is what humans do have over machines: the profit motive.
ai  inlink  algorithm  drugs 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
E-cigarettes around 95% less harmful than tobacco estimates landmark review • GOV.UK
<p>An <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-an-evidence-update">expert independent evidence review</a> published today by Public Health England (PHE) concludes that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.

Key findings of the review include:

• the current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking<br />• nearly half the population (44.8%) don’t realise e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking<br />• there is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers

The review, commissioned by PHE and led by Professor Ann McNeill (King’s College London) and Professor Peter Hajek (Queen Mary University of London), suggests that e-cigarettes may be contributing to falling smoking rates among adults and young people. Following the review PHE has published a paper on <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-an-evidence-update">the implications of the evidence for policy and practice</a>.

The comprehensive review of the evidence finds that almost all of the 2.6 million adults using e-cigarettes in Great Britain are current or ex-smokers, most of whom are using the devices to help them quit smoking or to prevent them going back to cigarettes. It also provides reassurance that very few adults and young people who have never smoked are becoming regular e-cigarette users (less than 1% in each group).</p>


Not surprising. The only risk is continuing nicotine addiction, and the cancers associated - oral, throat. But so much less dangerous than the smoke of tobacco.
drugs  ecigarettes 
december 2018 by charlesarthur
Instagram has a drug problem. Its algorithms make it worse • The Washington Post
Elizabeth Dwoskin:
<p>Recent searches on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, for hashtags of the names of drugs — such as #oxy, #percocet, #painkillers, #painpills, #oxycontin, #adderall and #painrelief — revealed thousands of posts by a mash-up of people grappling with addiction, those bragging about their party­going lifestyle and enticements from drug dealers.

Following the dealer accounts, or even liking one of the dealer posts, prompted Instagram’s algorithms to work as designed — in this case, by filling up a person’s feed with posts for drugs, suggesting other sellers to follow and introducing new hashtags, such as #xansforsale. Ads from some of the country’s largest brands, including Target, Chase and Procter & Gamble, as well as Facebook’s own video streaming service, appeared next to posts illegally selling pills.

Even as top executives from Facebook and Twitter, which has also long struggled with posts offering drugs illegally, promised earlier this month in a congressional hearing that they were cracking down on sales of opioids and other drugs, their services appeared to be open marketplaces for advertising such content. Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, said her company was “firmly against” such activity. Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said he was “looking deeply” at how drug-selling spreads on the site.

But activists and other groups have warned tech companies about illegal drug sales on their platforms for years. In recent months, lawmakers, the Food and Drug Administration and some advertisers have stepped into the fray. In April, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb charged Internet companies with not “taking practical steps to find and remove opioid listings.” Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) called social media companies “reckless,” saying, “It is past time they put human life above profit and finally institute measures that crack down on these harmful practices, preventing the sale of illegal narcotics on or through their platforms.”</p>
instagram  algorithms  drugs 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Feds ran a bitcoin-laundering sting for over a year • The Verge
Russell Brandom:
<p>More than 40 alleged dark-web drug dealers have been arrested as part of a sweeping federal effort described by the Department of Justice as “the first nationwide undercover operation targeting dark net vendors.” The core of the operation was an online money-laundering business seized by agents from Homeland Security Investigations and operated as a sting for over a year. By offering cash for bitcoin, HSI agents were able to identify specific drug dealers, ultimately tracing more than $20 million in drug-linked cryptocurrency transactions.

“For the past year, undercover agents have been providing money-laundering services to these dark net vendors, specifically those involved in narcotics trafficking,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Angel Melendez, in a press conference earlier today. Melendez led the operation from New York.

The hijacked money-laundering service was offered across a number of different marketplaces, with agents claiming at least some presence on AlphaBay, Dream Market, Wall Street, and others. In the past, law enforcement efforts have focused on taking down marketplaces in full, most notably Silk Road, Silk Road 2.0, and AlphaBay. But Melendez says his office has shifted focus to the individual dealers, who often operate independent of any single site.</p>


And now look at the sorts of drugs they were targeting:
<p>the same raids seized large quantities of Schedule IV pharmaceuticals — including 100,000 tramadol pills and over 24 kilograms of Xanax — as is typical of trade on dark net markets. Agents also recovered more than 300 models of liquid synthetic opioids and roughly 100 grams of fentanyl.</p>


They haven't specified how they matched the wallets to the drug buys. Which would have been useful.
fbi  bitcoin  drugs 
june 2018 by charlesarthur
One woman got Facebook to police opioid sales on Instagram • WIRED
Nitasha Tiku:
<p>Eileen Carey says she has regularly reported Instagram accounts selling opioids to the company for three years, with few results. Last week, Carey confronted two executives of Facebook, which owns Instagram, about the issue on Twitter. Since then, Instagram removed some accounts, banned one opioid-related hashtag and restricted the results for others.

Searches for the hashtag #oxycontin on Instagram now show no results. Other opioid-related hashtags, such as #opiates, #fentanyl, and #narcos, surface a limited number of results along with a message stating, “Recent posts from [the hashtag] are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.” Some accounts that appeared to be selling opioids on Instagram also were removed.

The moves come amid increased government concern about the role of tech platforms in opioid abuse, and follow years of media reports about the illegal sale of opioids on Instagram and Facebook, from the BBC, Venturebeat, CNBC, Sky News and others. Following the BBC probe in 2013, Instagram blocked searches of terms associated with the sale of illegal drugs.</p>


Zuckerberg was asked about opioid adverts on Facebook by the House of Representatives committee; he said (paraphrased) they couldn't do much and that they'd have to wait for better AI.
facebook  drugs  instagram 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
Drug firms poured 780m painkillers into West Virginia amid rise of overdoses • Charleston Gazette-Mail
Eric Eyre:
<p>Rural and poor, Mingo County has the fourth-highest prescription opioid death rate of any county in the United States.

The trail also weaves through Wyoming County, where shipments of OxyContin have doubled, and the county's overdose death rate leads the nation. One mom-and-pop pharmacy in Oceana received 600 times as many oxycodone pills as the Rite Aid drugstore just eight blocks away.

In six years, drug wholesalers showered the state with 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills, while 1,728 West Virginians fatally overdosed on those two painkillers, a Sunday Gazette-Mail investigation found.

The unfettered shipments amount to 433 pain pills for every man, woman and child in West Virginia.

“These numbers will shake even the most cynical observer,” said former Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, a retired pharmacist who finished his term earlier this month. “Distributors have fed their greed on human frailties and to criminal effect. There is no excuse and should be no forgiveness.”

The Gazette-Mail obtained previously confidential drug shipping sales records sent by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office. The records disclose the number of pills sold to every pharmacy in the state and the drug companies' shipments to all 55 counties in West Virginia between 2007 and 2012.

The wholesalers and their lawyers fought to keep the sales numbers secret in previous court actions brought by the newspaper.

The state's southern counties have been ravaged by a disproportionate number of pain pills and fatal drug overdoses, records show.

The region includes the top four counties — Wyoming, McDowell, Boone and Mingo — for fatal overdoses caused by pain pills in the U.S., according to CDC data analyzed by the Gazette-Mail…

…For more than a decade, the same distributors disregarded rules to report suspicious orders for controlled substances in West Virginia to the state Board of Pharmacy, the Gazette-Mail found. And the board failed to enforce the same regulations that were on the books since 2001, while giving spotless inspection reviews to small-town pharmacies in the southern counties that ordered more pills than could possibly be taken by people who really needed medicine for pain.</p>


The narrative among some is that these opioids are coming from Mexican drug dealers. Nothing of the sort: this is drugs companies. They, however, blame unscrupulous doctors and pharmacies; though this clearly shows that they overlooked suspicious situations which benefited them financially.

Though as the followup article explains, the state's pharmacy board <a href="http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news-health/20161218/suspicious-drug-order-rules-never-enforced-by-state">then ignored actionable data</a>.
drugs  addiction  us 
march 2017 by charlesarthur
High Hitler: how Nazi drug abuse steered the course of history • The Guardian
Rachel Cooke spoke to Norman Ohler, whose new book Blitzed explains the major - and previously overlooked - role of drugs in Germany's second world war effort:
<p>Pervitin, as it was known, quickly became a sensation, used as a confidence booster and performance enhancer by everyone from secretaries to actors to train drivers (initially, it could be bought without prescription). It even made its way into confectionery. “Hildebrand chocolates are always a delight,” went the slogan. Women were recommended to eat two or three, after which they would be able to get through their housework in no time at all – with the added bonus that they would also lose weight, given the deleterious effect Pervitin had on the appetite. Ohler describes it as National Socialism in pill form.

Naturally, it wasn’t long before soldiers were relying on it too. In Blitzed, Ohler reproduces a letter sent in 1939 by Heinrich Böll, the future Nobel laureate, from the frontline to his parents back at home, in which he begs them for Pervitin, the only way he knew to fight the great enemy – sleep. In Berlin, it was the job of Dr Otto Ranke, the director of the Institute for General and Defence Physiology, to protect the Wehrmacht’s “animated machines” – ie its soldiers – from wear, and after conducting some tests he concluded that Pervitin was indeed excellent medicine for exhausted soldiers. Not only did it make sleep unnecessary (Ranke, who would himself become addicted to the drug, observed that he could work for 50 hours on Pervitin without feeling fatigued), it also switched off inhibitions, making fighting easier, or at any rate less terrifying.

In 1940, as plans were made to invade France through the Ardennes mountains, a “stimulant decree” was sent out to army doctors, recommending that soldiers take one tablet per day, two at night in short sequence, and another one or two tablets after two or three hours if necessary. The Wehrmacht ordered 35m tablets for the army and Luftwaffe, and the Temmler factory increased production. The likes of Böll, it’s fair to say, wouldn’t need to ask their parents for Pervitin again.</p>


And yes, Hitler wasn't overlooked when it came to medication. The most stunning article you'll read today (unless you've already read it).
drugs  addiction  nazi 
october 2016 by charlesarthur
Fourteen years after decriminalizing all drugs, here's what Portugal looks like • Mic.com
Zeeshan Aleem:
<p>In 2001, the Portuguese government did something that the United States would find entirely alien. After many years of waging a fierce war on drugs, it decided to flip its strategy entirely: it decriminalized them all.

If someone is found in the possession of less than a 10-day supply of anything from marijuana to heroin, he or she is sent to a three-person Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction, typically made up of a lawyer, a doctor and a social worker. The commission recommends treatment or a minor fine; otherwise, the person is sent off without any penalty. A vast majority of the time, there is no penalty.

Fourteen years after decriminalization, Portugal has not been run into the ground by a nation of drug addicts. In fact, by many measures, it's doing far better than it was before.</p>
drugs  portugal 
august 2016 by charlesarthur
Scientology seeks captive converts via Google Maps, drug rehab centres • Krebs on Security
Brian Krebs:
<p>Experts say fake online reviews are most prevalent in labour-intensive services that do not require the customer to come into the company’s offices but instead come to the consumer. These services include but are not limited to locksmiths, windshield replacement services, garage door repair and replacement technicians, carpet cleaning and other services that consumers very often call for immediate service.

As it happens, the problem is widespread in the drug rehabilitation industry as well. That became apparent after I spent just a few hours with Bryan Seely, the guy who <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1533156778/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=seelysecurity-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=1533156778&linkId=bb0aa50317eb9ed82a7919a56a7155b1">literally wrote the definitive book on fake Internet reviews</a>…

…Seely has been tracking a network of hundreds of phony listings and reviews that lead inquiring customers to fewer than a half dozen drug rehab centers, including <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narconon">Narconon International</a> — an organization that promotes the theories of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard regarding substance abuse treatment and addiction.</p>


The word "<a href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=skeevy">skeevy</a>" seems appropriate for this practice.
drugs  maps  reviews 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
These superhumans are real and their DNA could be worth billions » Bloomberg Business
Caroline Chen:
Steven Pete can put his hand on a hot stove or step on a piece of glass and not feel a thing, all because of a quirk in his genes. Only a few dozen people in the world share Pete’s congenital insensitivity to pain. Drug companies see riches in his rare mutation. They also have their eye on people like Timothy Dreyer, 25, who has bones so dense he could walk away from accidents that would leave others with broken limbs. About 100 people have sclerosteosis, Dreyer’s condition.

Both men’s apparent superpowers come from exceedingly uncommon deviations in their DNA. They are genetic outliers, coveted by drug companies Amgen, Genentech, and others in search of drugs for some of the industry’s biggest, most lucrative markets.

Their genes also have caused the two men enormous suffering.


Admit it, until that last sentence you were feeling envious.
drugs  dna 
july 2015 by charlesarthur
What are they afraid of: will Schmidt take the Fifth again in @agjimhood’s Mississippi investigation? » MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY
Chris Castle:
During Eric Schmidt’s Senate antitrust subcommittee hearing in 2011, a strange thing happened–Eric Schmidt refused to answer under oath on the advice of counsel when Senator John Cornyn–formerly of the Texas Supreme Court–asked questions about Google’s then-recent non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.  While he didn’t give the usual catechism of “taking the 5th” around the answer, he definitely refused to answer on the advice of counsel.  And when you’re testifying before the US Senate, invoking your right to refuse to answer on the advice of counsel pretty much has one meaning.

So it’s not surprising that Google is now trying to block Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s investigation into the self same “plea bargain” that Google struck with the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice for which Google paid $500,000,000.

There’s something about that agreement that Google really, really, really doesn’t want to discuss.


This is related to Google paying $500m for having advertised prescription drugs from Canada to US users, which broke the law. Now the Mississippi attorney-general is after them, and this article points out how there's some very strange goings-on.
google  mississippi  drugs 
february 2015 by charlesarthur

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