Monday, October 11, 2004

Swift Vets Lock and Load

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are preparing several more TV ads to feature Bud Day, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. If you haven't yet, read the book and make up your own mind about whether these guys have a point.

[Via Michelle Malkin]

Halliburton Speaks (at last)

A Tough Job, and Halliburton Does It:

"" As the rhetoric heats up further in the few weeks before the election, we hope you will ask yourself: Do I have all the facts?

For instance, there are frequent references to our "no-bid" contract to support the U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The fact is that after a fully competitive and open bid process we were awarded a contract in 2001, well before the war in Iraq, to provide logistical support for U.S. soldiers wherever they might be deployed.

KBR did receive, at the outbreak of the war, a sole-source contract issued under urgent conditions to quickly restore the flow of Iraqi oil. But what you will not often read is that the independent General Accounting Office has since reviewed the contract and reported that it was "properly awarded … to the only contractor [the Defense Department] had determined was in a position to provide the services within the required time frame given classified prewar planning requirements." And you will almost never read that profit margins on these contracts are extremely low and that the oil contract was replaced early this year by one that was competitively bid.

Mischaracterizations and incomplete facts do a grave disservice to the employees and subcontractors who are working in Iraq. Never before has any contractor worked in as dangerous a situation as they are. Halliburton is providing jobs for Americans, and we are supporting the troops with the largest civilian workforce ever assembled in support of a military operation.""


Sunday, October 10, 2004

That Dog Don't Hunt

Huntin' Dawg:

" "If there is some kind of award given for the most derisive and biting political advertisement of the campaign, then this one from the NRA has my vote. " "

Warning: be sure your mouth does not have coffee in it before looking at the ad.

[Via Froggy Ruminations]

You Can Run But You Can't Hide

Power Line explains the origin of the line Bush used on Kerry--'You Can Run But You Can't Hide'

""At one time, everyone would have known the source of that line; today I'm sure most people do, but probably not all... For those who may have forgotten, Joe Louis was preparing for a title bout against Billy Conn, and a reporter asked Louis how he planned to deal with Conn's speed. (Conn was, in fact, a terrific boxer.) Louis replied, unforgettably: "He can run, but he can't hide.""

Can We Learn Something From The Flu Vaccine Shortage?

I hadn't thought of this until Michelle Malkin pointed it out in her excellent weblog:

""Why on earth does the U.S. get virtually all of its flu vaccine supply from just two manufacturers? Because federal bulk purchase of vaccines at government-controlled prices has made the vaccine market a market that few drug companies want to be in.


...the flawed approach used by the CDC--that is, using its buying clout to extract deep discounts from manufacturers--is exactly the same approach that John Kerry thinks the Medicare program should use for all prescription drugs, not just vaccines. More on our flawed vaccine policy here and here.""

[Via Michelle Malkin]

JibJab: It's Good to be in DC

It's Good to be in DC:

""The guys at JibJab have done it again: New JibJab film""

[Via Morning Java]

Saturday, October 9, 2004

Are Drug Company Profits Really That Fat?

Drug companies are widely perceived by the public to make huge amounts of money for their investors. Is that true? Well, it depends....

New England Journal of Medicine, August 26, 2004, 'The Pharmaceutical Industry--Prices and Progress':

" "Year after year, the pharmaceutical industry has ranked at or near the top of Fortune magazine’s annual list of the most profitable American industries, which are rated in terms of accounting returns as a percentage of either stockholders’ equity or total assets. But here, too, there is an element of fallacy. Under standard accounting practice, outlays for research and development are written off in the year they occur. But, in fact, such expenditures are an investment, yielding fruit many years after they are incurred. They ought, in principle, to be included in the company’s assets and then depreciated over an appropriate time period. When they are not, the capital base to which profits are related in standard measures tends to be undervalued, and percentage returns on that capital base are overstated. A government study found that, when appropriate corrections were made, the true returns on investment by the pharmaceutical industry during the 1980s were only 2 to 3 percent higher, on average, than “normal” competitive rates of return, which were estimated to average roughly 10 percent (excluding the effects of inflation). 19,20 This differential of 2 to 3 percent might have been attributable, at least in part, to technological risks not readily avoided through the portfolio strategies available to financial market investors. 21 Whether the differential has remained within that range in recent years has not been tested by broadly accepted analyses."
--F.M. Scherer, Ph.D., Kennedy School of Government "

Given that the pharmaceutical industry does its R&D from private funds, is the most research intensive of all industries, and has improved our quality of life like few industries have or ever will.....'the first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers'.

Media Underplaying Duelfer Report

Michael Barone joins with David Brooks in...:

""U.S. 'Almost All Wrong' on Weapons" read the headline on the October 7 Washington Post. "Report on Iraq Contradicts Bush Administration Claims" read the subhead. But these headlines conceal the real news in the report of Iraq Survey Group head Charles Duelfer. For the report makes it plain that George W. Bush had good reason to go to war in Iraq and end the regime of Saddam Hussein...."
[read the rest]"

Like I said, don't just be content to let some reporter tell you what is says. Go look for yourself...


David Brooks: The Report That Nails Saddam

The Report That Nails Saddam:

"" ...I have never in my life seen a government report so distorted by partisan passions. The fact that Saddam had no W.M.D. in 2001 has been amply reported, but it's been isolated from the more important and complicated fact of Saddam's nature and intent.

But we know where things were headed. Sanctions would have been lifted. Saddam, rich, triumphant and unbalanced, would have reconstituted his W.M.D. Perhaps he would have joined a nuclear arms race with Iran. Perhaps he would have left it all to his pathological heir Qusay.

We can argue about what would have been the best way to depose Saddam, but this report makes it crystal clear that this insatiable tyrant needed to be deposed. He was the menace, and, as the world dithered, he was winning his struggle. He was on the verge of greatness. We would all now be living in his nightmare." "

[Via Bush-Cheney '04 Blog]

Distortions Galore at Second Presidential Debate Distortions Galore at Second Presidential Debate

Friday, October 8, 2004

Importing drugs from Canada, which imports drugs from, where?

Watching the second presidential debate tonight, one question the voters need more information on is importation of drugs from Canada. Allow me to quote a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine:

""Pharmaceuticals valued at approximately $300 million (all amounts are expressed in U.S. dollars) were imported into Canada in 2002 [reference] from countries without mutual-recognition agreements about manufacturing practices. [reference] Twenty-five such countries (including China, India, Brazil, Hungary, Slovenia, Ecuador, Thailand, Croatia, Chile, South Africa, Argentina, and Indonesia) each exported $300,000 to $59 million worth of pharmaceuticals to Canada. [reference] In 2002, the value of imports from Thailand, Indonesia, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, and Brazil were 264 percent, 296 percent, 500 percent, 501 percent, 512 percent, and 3270 percent higher, respectively, than they were in 1999. In the first three quarters of 2003, the value of imports from Iran increased to $1.5 million (a 2372 percent increase over the total value in 2002).

"Because drugs from Internet suppliers may originate outside Canada and the United States, neither government takes responsibility for their safety. Canada should take prompt action to prevent large-scale, unregulated, cross-border sales to avoid any negative outcomes from drugs whose origin is unclear and whose quality is unknown.""

Contrary to what Senator Kerry would have you think, drugs purchases in Canada are not necessarily made in the Unites States. You're indirectly buying them from Thailand, Indonesia, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, and Iran.

Consider the following as well: is importation of drugs from Canada sustainable? There's good reason to think not:

""The mass exportation of prescription medication to the United States threatens the preferential pricing set by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.2 Companies may also choose not to market medication in Canada in order to protect the larger and more lucrative U.S. market.3 At risk is nothing less than the ability of countries to set their own policy regarding pharmaceuticals. The availability of Canadian medication is not a viable long-term solution to the problems of drug costs in the United States and represents a substantial threat to the access and affordability of drugs in Canada." [NEJM]"

12 October 2004: Brian Carnell responds here.

NEJM -- Prescription-Drug Prices

NEJM -- Election 2004: Prescription-Drug Prices (available free):

""At first blush, Kerry's positions appear to be more "consumer friendly" than Bush's. Kerry supports policies that create stronger downward pressure on prescription-drug prices than Bush's policies do. This more aggressive stance toward controlling today's drug prices must be considered in light of the effect of lower prices on the flow of new drugs that will be available to the next generation of consumers. Bush supports policies that protect the existing drug-price structures in the name of ensuring adequate economic incentives to innovate.

"The United States is entering uncharted waters in both of these key areas — the importation of prescription drugs and the role of the government in controlling their cost. A voter's choice between the candidates might well be guided by philosophy and a sense of whether profits in the pharmaceutical industry are high enough so that reductions in drug prices would not substantially impede the development of future drugs.

"Importation would have some predictable consequences: U.S. prices would decrease, the world would move toward a single price for a given drug, and Canada and Europe would probably make larger contributions toward the cost of research and development. The magnitude of the financial gain in the United States, however, is uncertain; my guess is that there would be modest price reductions for consumers in the United States and substantial price increases for Europeans and Canadians." "

The fly in the ointment here is the American health consumer's desire to have the best medical care in the world, have it for free, and have it now. I think they like the idea that drugs will be cheaper---even if it means having fewer 'new' drugs going forward. There are great drugs in the pipeline. Great new ideas for how to better treat asthma and diabetes and heart disease. They'll still be there, but will it be as soon if we reduce the premium drug companies charge for new drugs? I don't think so. I personally would favor streamlining the drug approval process and shortening the time until generics are available first.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004 Reviews Vice-Presidential Facts Cheney & Edwards Mangle Facts

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Let's Be Clear: Edwards Sued Doctors

Just one note on the debate before bed. John Edwards would you have you believe he's proud of representing the underprivileged against drug companies and insurance companies. He may have done some of that, but his specialty was suing doctors; most often for cerebral palsy and 'birth trauma'. (A causality which has been disproved.)

[via Overlawyered]

Financial Data on 527 Plans

TaxProf Blog has Financial Data on 527 Groups:

  • Top 20 Organizational Contributors to 527 Groups
  • Top 20 Individual Contributors to 527 Groups
  • List of Section 527 Groups that are "Major Players" in the 2004 Election


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