May 2001 Blog with Durk and Sandy
by Life Enhancement Products Admin on Jun 25, 2001
From Special Politically Incorrect IssueAllowing government officials to access a private person's medical records without a warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects American citizens from warrantless searches by government officials.
- Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX
Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.
- James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788
WHY DRUGS COST LESS IN CANADA - OR DO THEY?
There has been a great deal of misinformation floating about on the subject of why some drugs are less expensive in Canada. This has led some to propose that a system of government drug-price controls would be a good way to reduce drug costs here.
A recent paper in Regulation, a journal on the economic effects of regulations,1 makes some very interesting points in a comparison of the availability and cost of drugs in Canada and the U.S. It is not government price controls that make patented drugs cheaper in Canada, but the far lower standard of living of Canadians compared to Americans. At the same time, generic drugs cost more in Canada than the U.S.
Countries with Higher Incomes Generally Have Higher Drug Prices
A study conducted by one of the authors of this paper (along with a colleague)2 compared American and Canadian wholesale and retail drug prices for the 60 most-prescribed drugs in the U.S. and found that the average retail price for generics was higher in Canada than in the U.S., while branded drugs were significantly cheaper in Canada. A graph in the Regulation paper showed that countries with higher incomes generally have higher drug prices. Since the founding of the Canadian Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), a federal quasi-judicial body that regulates introductory prices of newly patented drugs and price increases of extant patented drugs, the median Canadian price for patented drugs has declined relative to other developed countries, but Canada's gross domestic product per capita (which reflects individual income) has also declined relative to those countries. The relative decline in Canadian living standards has been a factor leading to relatively low price increases for patented drugs versus other countries. In fact the 19% widening of the gap between Canadian and American aggregate price levels between 1987 and 1998 explained all but 5% of the increase in the pharmaceutical price difference between the two countries.
Effects of Legal Liability
When you consider the fact that the U.S. is a more litigious society than Canada, you would expect that American pharmaceutical prices would be higher (than they otherwise would be) because of those higher costs of legal liability. This accounts for some of the patented-drug price differences between the U.S. and Canada.
Competitive Markets Tend to Reduce Prices for Generics
Generic drugs are more expensive in Canada than the U.S. Given lower incomes and less tort litigation in Canada, one would expect Canadian prices to be lower, but they aren't. The reason for this is that the American generic market is more competitive than is the Canadian. In 1992, America had an average of 5.7 manufacturers of each therapeutic molecule, while Canada had only 2.02 (i.e., one branded and one generic firm). Moreover, there is much greater concentration in the generic drug industry in Canada. Of the ten top-selling pharmaceutical companies in Canada, only one is a generic manufacturer; the second-largest generic ranks thirteenth. These two generic firms together had fully 71% of the total generic market by revenue. Because Canada's drug-pricing regime discourages producers of branded drugs from ever lowering their prices, generic drugs can be marketed with a much smaller discount than is the case for generics in the U.S.
Conclusion: There is no free lunch. Government regulation of drug prices in the United States would make drugs cheaper if you could get them (i.e., supplies of the drugs whose prices were kept below the U.S. free-market price would fall). Moreover, the investment in research and development that currently makes the United States the world leader in developing new prescription drugs would fall. Government price controls on drugs (or anything else) are a bad idea that visibly benefits some (such as politicians buying votes and those looking for a free lunch at somebody else's expense) at the less visible expense of everybody else (e.g., dead body #9,287,604 died while on the waiting list to get price-controlled cheap drugs).
- Robert R. Graham, "Seeing Through the Snow," Regulation, Spring 2001, pp. 46-49.
- Graham and Robson, "Prescription Drug Prices in Canada and the United States - Part 1: A Comparative Survey," Public Policy Source Number 42, The Fraser Institute, 2000.
WEEDS MAY BE UNRECOGNIZED GOLD MINE FOR NEW MEDICINES
According to a new study reported in The Lancet,1 a better place than rain forests to look for new medicinals may be the weeds found in vacant lots. The reason, they propose, is that fast-growing weeds are more likely than rain-forest plants to rely upon chemical warfare (rather than other protection such as thick bark, woody stems, or thick leaves) to fight off predators and hence are more likely to produce compounds such as alkaloids, glycosides, and flavonoids that have pharmacological effects. The researchers studied medicinal plant use of 208 residents in six communities of the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, where 80% of the people speak only the Mayan language of Tzeltal. Over a 7-month period, the villagers collected 103 different plant species for medical uses, mostly respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders. Thirty-five of the 103 plants used were weeds, defined as fast-growing species that thrive in areas that have been disturbed by human activities, such as land clearing and trail making. The weeds used by the villagers as medicines comprised about a third of their medicinal plants, when only 13% of the plants in the area are classified as weeds.
- Stepp and Moerman, J Ethnopharmacol 75:19-23 (2001), as reported in McCarthy, "Weeds, not jungle plants, are more likely to have medicinal value," The Lancet 357:938 (2001).
VITAMIN E MAY REDUCE THE RISK OF ATHEROSCLEROSIS
The above is politically incorrect only for the FDA and its "public interest" minions. As you may know, the FDA recently denied our application for a health claim (initially filed in 1994) that vitamin E may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, despite the large body of scientific literature supporting the claim. The FDA continues to require the same standards to support dietary supplement health claims - large, multiyear, expensive, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trials - despite the explicit instructions from the Congress in the 1991 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act and the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act that provide that consumers should have access to information about dietary supplements before the degree of "certainty" required of prescription drugs has been reached.1
Despite the FDA's pronouncements, however, the body of evidence supporting a protective role for vitamin E continues to accumulate. A new study2 uncovers what may be an important mechanism for part of vitamin E's protective effects in atherosclerosis: reduced expression of CD36 SR.
Epidemiological studies have associated increased levels of low-density lipoproteins with an increased risk of atherosclerosis. The mechanism is still unclear. Although intracellular cholesterol provides feedback inhibition so that cholesterol accumulation does not continue unimpeded, oxidized LDL and other forms of modified LDL (e.g., acetylated LDL) do not provide such feedback. Hence, these forms of LDL can be taken up by scavenger receptor (SR) pathways, resulting in unregulated cholesterol accumulation and foam-cell formation.
A number of SR pathways have been identified. A new class of SR, called SR class B, has been identified as the oxidized LDL receptor, with CD36 as one of its members. CD36 binds both acetylated LDL and oxidized LDL and is highly expressed on lipid-laden macrophages in the human atherosclerotic aorta. Evidence indicates that CD36 may play a key role in foam-cell formation in atherosclerotic lesions.
The new study reports that high-dose alpha-tocopherol (1200 IU/day) significantly decreased monocyte proatherogenic activity (superoxide anion release; lipid oxidation; release of cytokines such as interleukin-1-beta, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interleukin-6; and adhesion to endothelium) and decreased levels of soluble cell-adhesion molecules in healthy human volunteers as well as in type 2 diabetic subjects (prone to accelerated atherosclerosis).
The authors conclude that "These findings, along with other reported beneficial effects of [alpha-tocopherol] (i.e., decrease in LDL oxidation, platelet aggregation, improvement in endothelial function, decrease inmonocyte proatherogenicity, and smooth-muscle-cell proliferation) lend further support for the potential antiatherogenic effects of
- See www.emord.com for the latest on our continuing First Amendment battle with the FDA. Also, note that while the FDA still will not allow us to communicate on labels the health claim that vitamin E may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, the FDA recommends as strongly proven reducing your risk by eating low-fat and low-cholesterol diets!
- Devaraj et al., "Alpha-tocopherol decreases CD36 expression in human monocyte-derived macrophages," Journal of Lipid Research 42:521-527 (2001).
DURK & SANDY'S ALL-NATURAL CATTLE
We own a herd of cattle, currently numbering (including calves) just over 200 head. Our cattle graze at will over thousands of acres of privately owned lush grasslands here in central Nevada. They are not vaccinated, hormone supplemented, antibiotic or otherwise medically treated, nor are they even given assistance in calving, and, except that all calves are branded and the male calves castrated (the small number of bulls doing the reproducing are carefully selected genetic breeds called Limousin and Red Angus), they live their lives until sold for beef essentially as wild animals on their own.
The cattle drink untreated natural spring water, and the grasses on which they graze are untreated (no herbicides or pesticides) and, except for the natural cattle droppings, unfertilized. During the winter, the cattle eat hay that has been harvested from these same grasslands earlier during the growing season. The cattle are not fed grain or protein supplements. Moreover, at the high altitude at which the grazing lands are located, the ultraviolet light from the sun and about 200 night/day freeze/thaw cycles per year do an excellent job of destroying parasites and bacteria living on the grasses.
We are looking for distributors of all-natural beef who might be interested in considering offering our cattle. Please contact us (concerning truckloads of our cattle only, please) c/o Life Enhancement's Web site, www.life-enhancement.com.