There is nothing quite so horrendous and heartbreaking as a baby with a malignant brain tumor, especially for parents and family. But at the same time, there is little as joyous and uplifting as seeing those tumors go away – and without the costly "assistance" of the corporate medical industry.
Recently, the father of an eight-month-old baby decided he would shun traditional radiation treatment and chemotherapy and instead push for an alternative treatment using cannabis oil. The baby's physician, Dr. William Courtner, who was initially skeptical earlier in his career about medical cannabis, has since seen such impressive results with it that he's not a big believer and a staunch advocate.
And the baby, by the way, was a huge reason for his conversion.
"They were putting cannabinoid oil on the baby's pacifier twice a day, increasing the dose... And within two months there was a dramatic reduction, enough that the pediatric oncologist allowed them to go ahead with not pursuing traditional therapy," Courtney said in an interview with The Huffington Post.
At four months the tumor had completely disappeared, and after eight months of treatment, the brain architecture and tissues were completely normal, making the toddler a "miracle baby" in Courtney's words.
The physician further noted that successful application of cannabis in this case means that "this child, because of that, is not going to have the long-term side effects that would come from a very high dose of chemotherapy or radiation... currently the child's being called a miracle baby, and I would have to agree that this is the perfect response that we should be insisting is frontline therapy for all children before they launch off on all medications that have horrific long term side effects."
Long before voters in some states have approved ballot measures legalizing marijuana for recreational use (it is still against federal law, by the way), many states permitted the use of pot to treat various medical conditions – from cancers and asthma to neurodegenerative diseases and autoimmune disorders.
This makes sense, because numerous studies have shown that cannabis has incredible healing qualities, and that is particularly true for cancers. Indeed, as we have reported, the National Cancer Institute has documented more than two dozen studies on how incredible the healing power of cannabis is.
In animal tests, for instance, researchers have found that cannabis is effective in treating two forms of highly lethal liver cancer – hepatic adenoma tumors and hepatocellular carcinoma.
We reported further:
Benign tumors in other organs, such as the pancreas, testes, uterus and mammary and pituitary glands, were diminished as well. Several reviews also found that cannabinoids appear to encourage cancer cell death (apoptosis), while preserving normal cells. Moreover, cannabis induces programmed cell death in breast cancer cell lines and offers protection against both colorectal and lung cancer.
And, as the Free Thought Project has noted, even the mainstream media appears to be admitting to the fact that cannabis has wonderful medical qualities. As CNN has reported, there are at least 10 medical conditions cannabis appears to relieve.
Also, the network's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, says it's time for a "medical marijuana revolution." What's more, he said based on his research for a series of documentaries on medical marijuana, there is growing support among varied political constituencies and the medical community for Congress to reschedule marijuana from Class 1 (narcotic) to something much more benign (and fitting).
Dr. Gupta is right – there is so much that is truly revolutionary about cannabis and marijuana, especially when it comes to treating cancer, so much that you'd be simply amazed.
In the two years since recreational marijuana sales became legal in Colorado, the state has seen economic growth two times greater than the U.S. national average, according to a new in-depth analysis.
"The Economic Impact of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado," released by the Marijuana Policy Group in October 2016, was created using a new "Marijuana Impact Model" designed to accurately measure the cannabis industry's economic impact on the state.
As it turns out, the positive impact has been enormous. The state saw nearly $1 billion in marijuana sales in 2015, with legal cannabis activities generating a combined output of $2.39 billion. Sales increased 42.4 percent over 2014.
From the report:
"Because the industry is wholly confined within Colorado, spending on marijuana creates more output and employment per dollar spent than 90 percent of Colorado industries ... Legal marijuana demand is projected to grow by 11.3 percent per year through 2020."
In just two years, the marijuana industry has become a major economic force in Colorado, outperforming many other sectors.
From The Daily Sheeple::
"Cannabis now ranks number six in terms of product sales, following closely behind cigarette sales. It beats gold mining by a large margin, and even performing arts and sports venues as well as all non-grain crop farming.
"However, the real impact is seen when put in terms of 'output and employment per dollar spent,' where spending in the cannabis industry outperforms all private industries in Colorado – including coal and other mining, oil and gas, casinos, business services, general manufacturing and retail trade (incl. alcohol)."
Every retail cannabis sales dollar represents $2.40 in state output, and the combined impact of retail sales, cultivation and manufacturing is greater than that of any other entity, including federal government spending in the state.
There's also good news regarding employment: The cannabis industry created more than 18,000 full-time equivalent jobs in 2015 – more than two-thirds of them directly related to the marijuana industry, the rest generated by spending on goods and services by the marijuana industry, and through "general spending by marijuana industry employees and proprietors."
The boost in tax revenues for the state has also been astounding. Colorado raked in more than $63 million in 2014, and over $121 million in 2015. The near-doubling of cannabis tax revenues in one year was attributed partly to the skyrocketing increase in sales during the period, and also to higher tax rates for recreational marijuana sales compared to medical cannabis.
"Marijuana tourism" – in which people visit Colorado primarily to sample legal cannabis products – has also fueled the increase in sales.
Unfortunately, the rapid growth of the cannabis industry in the state has produced a negative impact for smaller "cannabusinesses," as larger companies have begun to dominate the marketplace.
Certainly, this is partly attributable to natural market forces and competition, but one of the main challenges for the smaller players in the market has been to remain in compliance with the labyrinthine regulatory system put in place by the state. The cost and complexity of compliance has forced many to simply shut down.
The lessons learned from this report could help other states – such as the four that passed recreational marijuana initiatives in the recent election – in forging workable policy strategies regarding regulation, taxation and other areas of concern. The glowing economic growth statistics should also encourage state leaders to embrace this new industry and take advantage of its potential benefits.
Finally, the era of marijuana prohibition appears to be drawing to a close – and that's good news for everyone.
Last week, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Edith Ramirez, chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), requesting that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FTC look into some makers of prescription drugs and how they price insulin.
Sanders and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wrote that though the original insulin patent expired 75 years ago, “three drugmakers who make different versions of insulin have continuously raised prices.”
In “numerous instances,” the letter continued, “price increases have reportedly mirrored one another precisely.”
Citing concerns over rising insulin prices and their continued impact on federal spending, the two Democrats accused the companies of taking part in “anti-competitive” conduct and urged the DOJ to investigate. The companies accused of colluding to inflate the price insulin are Eli Lilly, Merck & Co., and Sanofi.
Sanders’ theory that the companies are coordinating to ensure insulin prices remain high across the board partly explains the increasing prices. But a study recently published by the Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA) shows the high cost of prescription drugs might be caused primarily by government granted monopolies.
According to the paper’s findings, researchers learned that manufacturers are allowed to set high drug prices due to market exclusivity, which is “protected by monopoly rights awarded upon Food and Drug Administration [or FDA] approval and by patents.” This is a finding that coincides with the assessment of many Austrian economists, who often argue the FDA causes “death and suffering” when it keeps drugs off the market due to heavy regulations.
In the United States, individuals spend more on prescription drugs than those in all other countries. The JAMA study noted that in 2013, “per capita spending on prescription drugs was $858,” a much higher cost to consumers than those in “19 other industrialized nations.” In those countries, people spent roughly $400 on prescription drugs. And with prices for prescription drugs in the U.S. jumping more than 10 percent in 2015, things are only getting worse for Americans.
Recently, former presidential contender and congressman Ron Paul wrote that “[m]onopolies and cartels are creations of government, not markets.” If the JAMA-published study on the high costs of prescription drugs arrived at the right conclusions, Paul’s explanation seems to point out a reason why.
“Government taxes and regulations,” the retired physician said, “are effective means of limiting competition in an industry.” When large corporations, like the three insulin makers Sen. Sanders is urging the DOJ to investigate, want to eliminate competition, they go to agencies like the FDA.
Since “[l]arge companies can afford the costs of complying with government regulations,” Paul added, smaller competitors are crushed by the high costs of doing business. What’s left? A small group of powerful entities that are ready to do anything to stay afloat. They might even collaborate with one another — as Sanders implies they have — after pushing all other competitors out of the picture with the aid of the FDA’s protectionist policies. After all, Paul explains, “[b]ig business can also afford to hire lobbyists to ensure that new laws and regulations favor big business.”
Examining the lobbying practices of Sanders’ three offenders, we find that Eli Lilly spent $5,470,000 on lobbying efforts in 2016 alone. Merck & Co. went beyond that, spending $5,500,000 on lobbying in 2016. Sanofi isn’t far behind, either; the company has spent $4,390,000 so far in 2016.
In the study published by JAMA, researchers concluded that the “approach the United States has taken to granting government-protected monopolies to drug manufacturers, combined with coverage requirements imposed on government-funded drug benefits” are pushing the prices up, creating an artificial scarcity that hurts those who cannot afford the life-saving drugs they require due to conditions such as diabetes.
Instead of more regulation, the solution is to allow companies to operate without being picked as winners by agencies like the FDA.
“Any businesses that charge high prices or offer substandard products” in a market environment free from government intervention, Paul wrote, “will soon face competition from businesses offering consumers lower prices and/or higher quality.” To put an end to high prices for prescription drugs, then, we must first put an end to monopoly-creating schemes — and yes, that includes terminating agencies like the FDA.
This article (We Finally Know Why Americans Spend More on Prescription Drugs Than Other Nations) via NB is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alice Salles and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the evidence supporting marijuana's healing properties continues to grow, the number of businesses getting involved with the commercialization of the plant also continues to expand. And despite the DEA's refusal to reschedule cannabis and relax federal laws surrounding marijuana, states continue to vote on and enforce their own laws surrounding the cannabis plant – particularly to acknowledge its medicinal properties.
So far, a number of states have legalized marijuana for medical use, and some have even legalized recreational use.
The expansion of marijuana's legality will undoubtedly create large opportunities for the industry. It has been suggested that the actions of these states will lead to the creation of a very viable market for marijuana across North America.
That's why it's not really that surprising that in 2015 rumors about Monsanto's desire to get involved with the cannabis industry began to circulate. Alternative news outlets were the first to report on it, and marijuana advocates were quick to criticize Monsanto's plans for creating a monopoly on the plant.
Just a few months ago, in April, a Monsanto spokesperson insisted that the company had no plans to get involved with the cannabis industry. In an interview, the company's spokeswoman, Charla Lord, told the Willamette Week, "Monsanto has not, is not and has no plans for working on cultivating cannabis."
Of course, many people continued to keep an eye on the company's activity. Some even believed that the company had already begun to dive into the marijuana industry, and were simply keeping it a secret.
While some may have dismissed such suspicions as "conspiracy theories," they were theories that were proven true; it has been revealed that Monsanto has already created the first GMO strain of cannabis. And, they want to patent it.
Fortunately, there are those who see fit to stand in the way of Monsanto's big plans. A start-up called Phylos Bioscience has launched an interactive guide that maps the genetic evolution of the marijuana plant. As We Are Anonymous reports, "This mapping allows for specific strains of marijuana – that are already in the public domain – a form of protection from large biotech patenting, such as Monsanto."
For the last two years, Phylos Bioscience has been dedicated to collecting samples of different strains of cannabis. In doing so, they have been able to sequence the plant's DNA, and to develop software to present a 3-D visual simulation of their data.
The company has launched this interactive guide, which is called Galaxy, allowing users to travel through a 3-D model of the genetic information that's been drawn from sequencing samples of the plant. Galaxy gives users the ability to see the hereditary sequence of each plant, by following lines that connect strains to their genetic parent or offspring. Plants that are similar are located close to each other, while colors are used to group the plants into "tribes" based on their regions, reports We Are Anonymous.
The map also allows users to view the relationship between different strains. According to Phylos Bioscience, their plant DNA sequencing will help bring order to the marijuana industry. The company states that they have sequenced DNA from over a thousand different plants and compared them.
"We mapped those relationships into three dimensions using Principal Components Analysis, a well-established technique in the field of population genetics. We combined this approach with other statistical genetics methods that generate 'heredity lines' connecting closely related samples; and then we made it interactive. These techniques have never been combined into a single visualization before, for any species."
The company says that their project was developed to create more understanding of the cannabis plant's history and evolution, as well as its future. Their documentation may even help with creating more accurate products. "We want to know where they came from, why they're so different, and what makes each one unique. And we want consumers and patients to finally know what they're getting and be able to get it again."
And, of course, protecting one of nature's most valuable plants from corruption and greed doesn't hurt. The hemp industry is also beginning to boom – but not all hemp extracts are created equal. That's why Mike Adams has joined up with Native Hemp Solutions to create a hemp extract with CBD content that's lab-validated. The Ranger's own CWC Labs tests these extracts to ensure 100 percent authenticity.
At least three states legalized marijuana Tuesday, and now the Reefer Revolution has spread to the East Coast.
New England has become the first region of the country outside the West to embrace marijuana legalization, with voters in Massachusetts approving an initiative Tuesday, while as of early Friday morning, a similar measure in Maine was still too close to call.
At this juncture in the vote count, with 84% of the vote counted, Maine's Question 1 initiative was winning with 51% of the vote, while Massachusetts' Question 4 initiative has won with 53% of the vote. The Associated Press called the Massachusetts victory late Tuesday night
The Maine initiative allows people 21 and over to possess and transport up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana, along with associated paraphernalia. They may also "gift" up to 2 ½ ounces to other adults. Individuals may also grow up to six flowering plants and 12 immature ones at their residences and keep the fruits of their harvest, which could be considerably more than 2 ½ ounces. They can also purchase up to 2 ½ ounces of marijuana at a time at licensed marijuana retail stores.
If it squeaks through, the Maine initiative will create a thoroughly regulated and licensed system of marijuana cultivation, production, processing, and retail sales, with a 10% tax on retail sales. Tax revenues beyond program costs will go to the state's general fund.
Cities and towns will have the right to regulate and even prohibit marijuana businesses, and the initiative offers no protection against employer drug testing.
The Massachusetts initiative allows people 21 and over to possess an ounce in public and up to 10 ounces at home, as well as the fruits of their harvest of up to six plants. It also legalizes the possession of pot paraphernalia.
And it creates a commission similar to an Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to oversee and regulate licensed marijuana cultivation, production, testing, and retail facilities. Retail marijuana sales will be subject to the sales tax of 6.25% and an excise tax of 3.75%, or a 10% tax. Cities and counties could add another 2%.
They can also regulate marijuana businesses, or opt out altogether. The initiative offers no protection against employer drug testing.
Legalization initiatives also won in California and Nevada Tuesday. A legalization initiative in Arizona appeared to be losing early Friday morning.
As the U.S. government continues to fight its futile war on drugs, marijuana possession arrests have now become more common than all other crimes combined, according to a new report focused on showing the human toll of criminalizing drug use and published by Human Rights Watch (HRW.org).
The war on drugs in the U.S. is a palpable failure. Drug-possession arrests more than doubled between 1979 and 2016. The prison population now includes more than half a million Americans jailed for drug offenses, in comparison to only 41,000 in 1980. Over the last four decades, the war on drugs has restricted individual rights and created an environment of violence and inequality, but it has done almost nothing to solve the problems associated with drug abuse.
“Evaluations of specific tactics, such as raids on crack houses and crackdowns, suggest that their effects on drug availability are minimal, decay rapidly, and may displace drug activity to other areas and increase drug-related violence.” ~ 2016 study published in by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, entitled War on Drugs Policing and Police Brutality
Despite the ongoing war, cannabis usage is becoming more acceptable and even legal, proving that opinion and policy vary wildly. In fact, a study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that the number of Americans who use marijuana has doubled from 2001-02 to 2012-13. The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that over 22 million Americans use the plant either for medical purposes and/or recreationally.
Americans have become accepting of cannabis, even though it is still illegal under federal U.S. law. Over the last decade, immense amount of research has shown the medical benefits of the cannabis plant. Legalization of the plant in several U.S. states has demonstrated that it is not a threat to public safety. It seems that the most dangerous aspect of cannabis use is the possibility of police confrontation, arrest and incarceration.
Regardless of the trends showing an increase in cannabis popularity, the report by HRW.org found that policing of marijuana-possession laws continues to be quite aggressive when compared to the enforcement of other laws.
“Despite shifting public opinion, in 2015, nearly half of all drug possession arrests (over 574,000) were for marijuana possession. By comparison, there were 505,681 arrests for violent crimes (which the FBI defines as murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault). This means that police made more arrests for simple marijuana possession than for all violent crimes combined.”
Through the evaluation of court data for the state of Texas, HRW discovered that many of those prosecuted “were prosecuted for small quantities of drugs—in some cases, fractions of a gram—that were clearly for personal use.” Other sources reveal that 8 in 10 drug arrests in 2013 were for drug possession rather than sale and manufacturing.
Every 25 seconds, someone in the U.S. is arrested for drug use or possession. More than one of nine arrests by state law enforcement are for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests per year.
As a result of this aggressive enforcement of drug laws, on any given day at least 137,000 people sit in local and state jails on drug possession charges awaiting their day in court. Drug possession offenders in general will soon make up 25% of the prison population. Because federal law mandates a sentence of life without parole for anyone whose third strike is a federal crime (such as drug possession and, in many states, marijuana possession), 10 times as many third-strikers are serving time for drug possession as a second-degree murder.
It’s clear that people from all demographics wish to have safe access to cannabis, both for recreational purposes as well as for a growing list of medical benefits. While access opens up in U.S. states where legalization continues to gain steam, safe access to cannabis is still an issue for many, which is why people are creating businesses like Buy Weed Online Canada, and until the government fully decriminalizes cannabis, our prison system, court system and police forces will continue to be bogged down with the persecution and prosecution of non-violent offenders.
Mylan got raked over the coals in Congress for raising the price of its autoinjector EpiPen seven-fold since buying it in 2007. Last year, Turing Pharmaceuticals, under Martin Shkreli, got into hot water over raising the price of just-acquired Daraprim 50-fold.
Private equity firms have figured this out. You can make a ton of money with a basic formula: Fund a newly created outfit that buys the rights to a prescription drug with little or no competition and with stagnant or declining sales, jack up the price of the drug, then flip the company at an enormous profit.
This has become the latest way of wringing out the American economy without contributing anything to it, and at the expense of everyone else. So Bloomberg dug into the role private equity firms play in these schemes.
For example, Genentech developed immune-disorder drug Actimmune decades ago. Eventually, sales began sagging. In 2012, it sold the rights to Vidara Therapeutics for $55 million. Vidara had been formed for this purpose and was funded by private equity firm DFW Capital Partners.
Over the next two years, they jacked up the price of Actimmune by 434%, thus making it a very profitable drug despite declining sales. In September 2014, they flipped Vidara to Horizon Pharma for $660 million, pocketing a huge low-risk gain in just 27 months.
Then Horizon jacked up the list price another 81% to $538,000 for a year’s worth of treatment. Since 2012, the list price has soared 866%!
At that time, Vidara’s co-founder and majority shareholder, Balaji Venkataraman, was involved in another highly profitable pharma flip, according to Bloomberg. He helped start up and fund Sebela Pharmaceuticals in 2013. In August 2014, Sebela bought Miacalcin, which treats high calcium levels, from Novartis. Over the next eight months, the price was jacked up from $68 a vial to $1,987 a vial.
Then the highly profitable exit. Bloomberg: “About a year later, Sebela sold Miacalcin ‘for a substantial gain,’ resulting in a special distribution to shareholders, according to an annual report from one of DFW’s investors.”
The buyer? Mylan of EpiPen fame. Which has since jacked up the price to $2,283 a vial. This brings the total price increase since August 2014 to 3,257%!
But it’s not just old drugs that get flipped. New drugs can get the same treatment, so to speak. Savient Pharmaceuticals developed Krystexxa for chronic gout. It started marketing it 2011. But things didn’t work out. In October 2013, Savient filed for bankruptcy. In January 2014, Crealta Pharmaceuticals, which had no drugs but was backed by PE firm GTCR, acquired the assets of Savient for $120 million. It then jacked up the price of Krystexxa by $8,610 per vial, pushing it from $5,390 per vial to $14,000.
In January 2016, Crealta, with Krystexxa as the main asset, was sold to Horizon – the same company that had bought Vidara – for $510 million. Horizon continued the scheme, raising the price of Krystexxa to $16,909 per vial. Since January 2014, the price has soared by $11,519 per vial.
Covis, based in Switzerland and majority owned by PE firm Cerberus Capital, acquired 14 licensing rights for $345 million over three years, from Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, and others. According to Bloomberg, Covis jacked up prices on six of them by over 200%. In April last year, it sold 12 of the brands and some generics to Concordia for $1.2 billion. And… “Price rises continued.”
Two of these drugs, Nilandron and Dutoprol, are up 989% and 1,057%, respectively, since 2013.
They’re among dozens of drugs bought with private financing in the past six years, according to an analysis of products in a database kept by the software company Connecture Inc. The price often rises, and the drug’s often resold.
There are other examples: The price of the old Novartis cold-sore cream Denavir was jacked up 372% “as it changed hands twice with private equity help,” according to Bloomberg. The price of Dutoprol soared 1,057% after a flip.
Between 2011 and 2015, about 650 branded prescription drugs have doubled in price, according to data from Connecture, cited by Bloomberg. And for about 100 of these drugs, prices were jacked up by over 500%.
Insurance companies and pharmacy-benefit managers, which have been focusing on top sellers to contain costs, are now starting to home in on flipped drugs that had been flying under the radar. For example, benefits manager CVS Health said in August that due to these “hyperinflationary” price increases, it would stop covering Nilandron and Dutoprol.
Senator Bernie Sanders has lambasted the greed of this industry repeatedly. Over the past couple of days, he added some stinging tweets:
9 of 10 Americans blame the pharmaceutical industry for the high cost of health care. It’s time to end their greed and lower drug prices.
The business model of the drug industry is fraud. Glaxo put patients at risk to increase their profits
It makes no sense that the same drug that costs $70 in France costs $450 in the US. We should reduce barriers to importation of drugs.
Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk clearly care more about their profits than their patients. It’s time to end their greed.
What you have is an incredibly powerful and greedy industry charging whatever price they want.
Companies will do whatever they can to build, use, and abuse monopolies, dysfunctional markets, patent laws, and other government protections in order to maximize profits while cannibalizing the entire economy.
They don’t care. And they’re not required to care.
The fault lies with Congress and regulators that have been “captured” by the industry. They’ve allowed and encouraged this form of price gouging. They’ve recklessly and willfully shuffled off the responsibility of keeping prices under control to market forces and competition, knowing perfectly well that there are no market forces and competition for many drugs, and nothing else to keep prices in check.
The dog-and-pony shows during the periodic congressional hearings with all their professionally faked outrage are simply brushed aside by these one-drug outfits, the PE firms behind them, and Big Pharma, all of them in search of maximum profit in the shortest amount of time, at the lowest risk, and at the expense of everyone else.
Health insurers just can’t stand competition. Read… Are Big Health Insurers Screwing with Consumers and Businesses?
Challenge the message and not the messenger!
The first person to resort to name calling and personal attacks automatically loses the debate!
Personal attack is often the best indication that the writer knows his logic is flawed and therefore tries to deflect attention by attacking the opponent, instead of attacking the arguments of the opponent.
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