Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Thursday, February 18, 2016

BigPharma and more deception

I have ranted about BigPharma and the lack of ethical grounding in the direct-to-consumer advertising. That part of the health care industry spends about $5 billion a year on convincing consumers to pester their doctors for the “latest and greatest” drugs, some of which are not only less effective but also less safe than the old and cheaper pharmaceuticals. The negative effect of permitting DTC advertising has finally triggered the American Medical Association’s ire, with a recent statement condemning the practice.

Now, thanks to Stat, a newsletter on health, medicine and science, we learn more of the deceptive tactics from BigPharma and the milquetoast response from the Food and Drug Administration. (By the way, the current nominee to head the FDA comes out of BigPharma, which is why Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has put a hold on the vote to confirm.) We all aware of how BigPharma showers as much money on prescribers as it can get away with. BigPharma pays for the studies, and like campaign contributions, expects positive results from spreading around its coinage. It also pays for some of those docs to host “educational” sessions about the wonders of the new drug.

Stat’s newsletter Thursday gives us added evidence the capitalistic-free market model for the health care sector of the United States economy works against the good of patients and the clinician who care for them. It turns out that the way the commercials are constructed are coldly calculated to misdirect the audience away from the sometimes serious, if not fatal, side effects of these drugs. Click on the link to read the entire article.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Super Bowl 50 - Was it a real contest?

Oh, yes, I am going to be quite the curmudgeon about the Super Bowl. And not because of the outcome of the game. I didn’t have a horse or cat in that fight. No, my beef is with the entire spectacle and the corporatist bread and circuses nature of the event.

First, I have to ask if this is a real football game because it is played with a different set of rules. The 40-second play clock at the Super Bowl is even more irrelevant than during the normal season. Why?
Well, look at all the commercial breaks. They are more frequent and longer than the ones during the regular season. I wonder how many viewers even know that during the regular season the television coverage drives the long pauses at the stadium for commercials. I know this from attending Bronco games at the real Mile High Stadium in the 1980s. So, the time between plays, with all its implications, is more than the 40 second. But at the Super Bowl, there are more and longer commercials.

In the same vein, I also must ask if the long halftime show meets the NFL’s rules. Normally, that is a 15-minute break. How long was this halftime?

Second, as I noted on Facebook last night, if this is the epitome of professional football, with the best teams of this season competing, why was the officiating crew so incompetent? Or, was thee some secret agreement that, despite the incredible technology for reviewing calls, the penalties would favor Denver. Two examples come to mind.

The first bad call was ruling Jerricho Cotchery’s catch as an incomplete pass when the replay was clear. Unless, that is, the NFL and its officials don’t know what a complete pass is. But, that call was a game-changer because instead of a great advance, the Panthers got pinned back in their own territory. The second bad call came a couple of plays later when Denver stripped Cam Newton and recovered the fumble in the end zone. But, the officials missed a facemask call on Newton, which would have nullified the Denver touchdown. The replay clearly showed the infraction.

Frankly, I don’t expect any honesty from the NFL. It’s not my original joke, but as one poster on Facebook noted, all that confetti was shredded reports of concussion studies. And, looking at the history of the game, the team owners are no better than any other corporatists. Players, no matter their hero status among the fans, are commodities — in economic terms, factors of production.

So, ask yourself this: If the Panthers were so heavily favored but Peyton Manning’s hero status would be buttressed by him retiring with the best victory of all, making for a great NFL propaganda film, why wouldn’t the NFL figure out a way to skew the game?

But the capper for my disgust with this event came with Manning’s post-game interview on CBS. Asked if this was his last game, Manning said he would have to reflect on that question but his immediate plan was to drink a lot of Budweiser. Really? Of course, Bud was a major sponsor and, despite playing a football game, Manning had the presence of mind to plug the sponsor. Manning was born in New Orleans and, as a native son of one of the best food, drink and party towns in the nation, I can’t believe Manning drinks that swill? As for playing and living in Denver, that city was one of the first epicenters for the craft beer-brew pub revolution. That’s how Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, rose to prominence.

Folks, don’t be fooled by this event. It is one more distraction in a long series of distractions that further the corporate takeover of our government. How sad.