Thursday, February 20, 2014

Counterfeit Meds in America

While outrage over antibiotics in chicken or beef grab headlines, critical questions about antibiotics and other meds taken by us human folk here in America point to an even more grim reality.

2004 saw the closure of the last American plant making such vital medicine. Fearing FDA oversight, companies fled overseas, so that today most antibiotics and key ingredients in other medicines are made in India and China - not a bad thing in itself, but now we find the meds you take may be fake at best, deadly at worst.

In truth many big pharma makers in India do a fine job. We know little about China since they won't let FDA folks examine their facilities.

Recent reports ( here and here) highlight deeply troubling trends:

-- The World Health Organization estimated that one in five drugs made in India are fakes. A 2010 survey of New Delhi pharmacies found that 12 percent of sampled drugs were spurious.

-- One widely used antibiotic was found to contain no active ingredient after being randomly tested in a government lab. The test was kept secret for nearly a year while 100,000 useless pills continued to be dispensed.
More tests of hospital medicines found dozens more that were substandard, including a crucial intravenous antibiotic used in sick infants.

-- India’s pharmaceutical industry supplies 40 percent of over-the-counter and generic prescription drugs consumed in the United States.

-- One federal database lists nearly 3,000 overseas drug plants that export to the United States; the other lists 6,800 plants. Nobody knows which is right.
Drug labels often claim that the pills are manufactured in the United States, but the listed plants are often the sites where foreign-made drug powders are pounded into pills and packaged.

-- Imports rule in America as we receive  80 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States, 50 percent of the fresh fruit, 20 percent of the vegetables and the vast majority of drugs, all originate overseas.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Are You What You Like?

PBS Frontline aired a program titled "Generation Like", exploring the rapid spread and rise of online activity on social media websites, which left me with several thoughts.

-- Social media users disgorge details of their lives to the world while that info is collected and sorted and stored for numerous business activities, especially marketing. But who is using who?

-- Is the world (well those parts with constant online access) joined in a brave new conversation? Are users just seeking validation via shared enthusiasms?

-- The multi-faceted chain of events which follow when a user clicks a Like button or retweets or reblogs something is vast. The reductive nature of the Like concept also is vastly multi-layered, but it strikes me as a sort of yearning for less loneliness, and a plea we share to seek some change to thought or action. "Like" encapsulates so very much.

-- Optimistically, I'm thinking the rudimentary hunt for Likes and Shares are akin to the early stages of communication, and the creation of a self identity. Optimistic, I say, but only time will reveal if people are growing, devolving, or headed into an unknown social construct.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Keeping Time in Tennessee

I mentioned earlier (in Time) the state legislature is debating a bill to stop the back and forth of Daylight Savings Time. To clarify, sponsors want Tennessee to stay forever in DST.

Some fret over the state's businesses having to adjust with other states over the time differences, though really don't we have to do that anyway?

I have no clue what might have prompted this proposal - the change or lack of it seems capricious. Still, I'd sure like it if the changes would just stop. That said, does the idea really merit legislative debate?

What say you?