People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I'm For Secession

I wonder. Can we turn San Francisco over to the enemy?

San Francisco Shuns Retired USS Iowa
By BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press Writer

The USS Iowa joined in battles from World War II to Korea to the Persian Gulf. It carried President Franklin Roosevelt home from the Teheran conference of allied leaders, and four decades later, suffered one of the nation's most deadly military accidents.

Veterans groups and history buffs had hoped that tourists in San Francisco could walk the same teak decks where sailors dodged Japanese machine-gun fire and fired 16-inch guns that helped win battles across the South Pacific.

Instead, it appears that the retired battleship is headed about 80 miles inland, to Stockton, a gritty agricultural port town on the San Joaquin River and home of California's annual asparagus festival.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a former San Francisco mayor, helped secure $3 million to tow the Iowa from Rhode Island to the Bay Area in 2001 in hopes of making touristy Fisherman's Wharf its new home.

But city supervisors voted 8-3 last month to oppose taking in the ship, citing local opposition to the Iraq war and the military's stance on gays, among other things.

"If I was going to commit any kind of money in recognition of war, then it should be toward peace, given what our war is in Iraq right now," Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said. (link)

This guy must hate the country in which he is imprisoned and from which he cannot escape.

Oh, wait. This is America. He's not forced to live here. He's just forced to be stupid.

Taking Glee In Consumer Hardship

You know what's bizarre about that Merck Vioxx jury verdict the other day?

The jury determined that Merck was not forthright in its reporting of test results and follow-on warnings to consumers relating to elevated risk of heart attack and stroke.

That may be accurate in and of itself. But here is the warning that potential Vioxx users received before the drug was withdrawn from the market:

Physicians should instruct their patients to read the patient package insert before starting therapy with VIOXX and to reread it each time the prescription is renewed in case any information has changed.

VIOXX can cause discomfort and, rarely, more serious side effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, which may result in hospitalization and even fatal outcomes. Although serious GI tract ulcerations and bleeding can occur without warning symptoms, patients should be alert for the signs and symptoms of ulcerations and bleeding, and should ask for medical advice when observing any indicative signs or symptoms. Patients should be apprised of the importance of this follow-up. For additional gastrointestinal safety information see CLINICAL STUDIES, Special Studies, VIGOR and WARNINGS, Gastrointestinal (GI) Effects - Risk of GI Ulceration, Bleeding and Perforation. Patients should be informed that VIOXX is not a substitute for aspirin for cardiovascular prophylaxis because of its lack of effect on platelets. For additional cardiovascular safety information see CLINICAL STUDIES, Special Studies, VIGOR and PRECAUTIONS, Cardiovascular Effects.

Patients should promptly report signs or symptoms of gastrointestinal ulceration or bleeding, skin rash, unexplained weight gain, edema or chest pain to their physicians. (
link) [emphases are mine]
So users were warned that they could die if they injest Vioxx. But the warning wasn't clear enough as it pertained to elevated risk of heart attack.

Here's the New York Times' take on the Vioxx judgement this morning:
Punishment for Merck

Merck deserves some sympathy, but not a lot, for the staggering loss it suffered last week in a case involving its painkiller Vioxx, which was withdrawn from the market because it raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes in a small percentage of patients. A Texas jury hit Merck with a symbolically staggering $253.5 million judgment (it will be reduced to $26.1 million under a Texas law capping punitive damages) even though the evidence that Vioxx actually caused the victim's death was extremely thin. The verdict may reflect the fact that Merck was facing an extremely capable lawyer, while its own lawyers committed blunders that alienated the jury. But before heaping too much sympathy on the beleaguered drugmaker, it is important to note that Merck brought a lot of this problem on itself - by failing to react quickly to evidence that Vioxx can be harmful in some patients and by promoting the drug beyond any rational use. (link)

Shed no tears for Merck. The pharmaceutical giant won't be paying one penny. You will.

Accountants at Merck will post the legal judgement as a liability where it will make its way to the company's balance sheet. The company, in order to counter the loss of assets that will be used to offset the liability, will raise prices. Drug prices. Prices that everyone is screaming about being too high now.

Did you really think it was all those doctor golf outings and free trips that made your meds so expensive?

Welcome to the real world, folks.