Category archives: Government

Will Congress Reduce Drug Costs?

by David Christensen

December 21, 2006

A couple of FDA items in the news yesterday are of interest, as is an oped about dealing with drug costs. First, the Washington Post reports on a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) study that new drugs are decreasing while the cost of drug R&D is increasing. In fact, the cost of R&D for drugs has increased to $60 billion annually from 1993 to 2004.

The amount of regulation on drug companies is definitely part of the reason for the enormous costs of getting new drugs to the market. I had a friend working for a company, and her job was to help companies run clinical trials in line with FDA regs. After a trial was complete, she said the amount of paperwork literally filled two trucks (not pickup trucks either). The amount of paper work alone has got to drive up costs, which of course are passed on to the consumer.

Second, it was widely reported yesterday that the FDA will require clearer labels for over-the-counter pain meds. I was shocked at how many deaths are attributed to pain killers (Tylenol, Aleve, etc). According to a Washington Post article:

Acetaminophen [Tylenol] sends an estimated 56,000 people to the emergency room each year, the FDA said. About 100 people die each year after unintentionally overdosing on the drug. Ibuprofen is sold under the brand names Advil and Motrin and in generic form. Naproxen is best known as Aleve but is also sold generically. The NSAIDs are blamed for sending more than 200,000 Americans to the hospital every year and are linked to an estimated 16,000 deaths, the FDA said.

Third, there’s an interesting oped “Freeing the Drug Market” in yesterday’s National Review online. David Gratzer calls for the removal of FDA’s “efficacy” standards, not “safety” standards. (Remember, the FDA is to ensure drugs are “safe and effective.”) He makes some good points about over-regulation, drug R&D costs, etc. If I understand correctly, his main argument is that FDA’s testing for “efficacy” of a drug (not just “safety”) is always different than real-world “efficacy,” because doctors use drugs off-label. So, Gratzer argues we should just get rid of the FDA’s efficacy requirement, which would reduce regulations and thereby reduce drug costs without risking “safety.” I think it’s an interesting idea. Of course, one could easily argue, instead, that we should restrict off-label use. I’m not sure either option would work at reducing costs….but I do think that restricting “off-label” use would be a disaster for our “free market” health system. It would mean that physicians would not be the primary caretakers, but rather those in Washington.

According to the WaPo article on the GAO drug R&D costs study, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) requested the study, and now they want to “reexamine” the drug development system. We’ll see what the new Congress decides to do.

Sandy Berger: Keeping America Safe from the Truth

by Family Research Council

December 21, 2006

Mishandling classified information, committing a crime and then lying to cover it up - and then when caught he still denies everything!! Where did he learn his ethics from? Oh wait I forgot who his former boss was.

Report Says Berger Hid Archive Documents

President Clinton’s national security adviser removed classified documents from the National Archives, hid them under a construction trailer and later tried to find the trash collector to retrieve them, the agency’s internal watchdog said Wednesday.

The report was issued more than a year after Sandy Berger pleaded guilty and received a criminal sentence for removing the documents.

Berger took the documents in the fall of 2003 while working to prepare himself and Clinton administration witnesses for testimony to the Sept. 11 commission. Berger was authorized as the Clinton administration’s representative to make sure the commission got the correct classified materials.

The 109th Congress: What’s In a Name?

by Family Research Council

December 14, 2006

It appears the majority of the bills came from the Democrats. What will be left to name once they are in power?

Hey its Christmas bonus time, I'll take all opportunities to suck up

109th Congress a success at naming buildings

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Despite criticism for adjourning last week without acting on several major legislative initiatives, members of Congress can boast significant achievements in at least one area of federal lawmaking — naming post offices.

Of the 383 pieces of legislation that were signed into law during the two-year 109th Congress, more than one-quarter dealt with naming or renaming federal buildings and structures — primarily post offices — after various Americans.

Three post offices were named after entertainers. Ray Charles, the late singer and musician, was honored with a post office in Los Angeles in July 2005 in a bill sponsored by Rep. Diane Watson, D-California Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, authored a law naming another Los Angeles post office after actor and former American Express pitchman Karl Malden.

Stop the ACLU: No ifs, ands or butts

by Family Research Council

December 13, 2006

The ACLU is saying a teacher’s First Amendment rights are being violated because he was fired due to his side job of making paintings that are probably the butt of many wise cracks.There were so many puns with this one In what way is the school stifling his freedom of expression? The “artist” is still free to do his “paintings,” however the school district by no means needs to condone his behavior. The ACLU knows that by suing under First Amendment grounds that they can profit by suing the school district for legal fees. This is done by abusing existing civil rights laws that were meant to protect minorities who were victims of prejudice; instead the ACLU uses it as a cash cow. This is why Congress needs to stop this abuse and reintroduce and pass the Public Expression of Religion Act as soon as they come back.

Virginia Teacher Suspended for Painting With Genitals

RICHMOND, Va. — Chesterfield County school officials have suspended a teacher they say may be setting a bad example for students through his outside artistic activities.

Stephen Murmer is a self-described “butt-printing artist.”

He creates floral and abstract art by plastering his posterior and genitals with paint and pressing them against canvas.

His cheeky creations sell for hundreds of dollars.

But Murmer is also known as a popular, joke-cracking art teacher at Monacan High School.

Chesterfield County schools spokeswoman Debra Marlow says school system regulations state that teachers must set an example for students through their personal conduct.

Murmer was placed on administrative leave on Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia says the suspension goes against Murmer’s First Amendment rights.

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