Thursday, August 25, 2016

Last Call For The Pen Is Mightier

The latest instance of pharmaceutical finagling (as the trend for drug makers is to buy an established company's patent on necessary medicine and then jack up the price by, say, 1000%) is the most popular drug used to save lives and prevent anaphylactic shock, the EpiPen.

The drug used to retail for about $30 for a portable injector used to deliver a life-saving dose of epinephrine used to counter extreme allergic reactions to things like shellfish or bee stings.  People with deadly susceptibility to these allergens need this drug in case of emergency exposure.

But the maker of the drug, Mylan, is now charging hundreds and hundreds of dollars per dose, and that has gotten the attention of Congress and of outraged voters in a presidential election year.  The condemnation has been swift of Mylan's CEO. Heather Bresch.

Did I mention Bresch's father is our old friend West Virginia Dem Sen. Joe Manchin?  I didn't? Maybe that explains Bresch's rapid about face today, offering customers financial help.

Drug maker Mylan (MYL) said Thursday that it would offer discounts on a life-saving allergy shot after generating a firestorm when it implemented sharp price increases for the treatment. 
The company said it would offer coupons covering up to $300 "for patients in health plans who face higher out-of-pocket costs" for the EpiPen Auto-Injector treatment. 
Mylan also said it would double the income level at which families are eligible for assistance in purchasing the medication to 400% of the federal poverty level. The company said a family of four with income up to $97,200 won't pay out of pocket. 
"As a mother, I can assure you, the last thing that we would ever want is no one to have their EpiPen due to price," Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said on CNBC in an interview. "Our response has been to take that immediate action of making sure everyone has an EpiPen." 
The average wholesale price of EpiPen has increased by 500% since 2009, while the price that insurers and employers pay to Mylan is up 150% over that period. There's no generic equivalent and no brand-name competitor. 
Politicians and patient advocates have criticized Mylan for the price increases, describing the company's actions as emblematic of the drug industry's unfair stranglehold on the market for life-saving treatments. 
Bresch vigorously defended the price hikes, arguing that the U.S. health-care framework "incentivizes higher prices" through a complex thicket of drug companies, insurers, health-care providers and pharmacy benefit managers. 
"There's no question, the system is broken," she said. "There's no transparency, there's no clarity and no one knows what anything costs."

Well, as people keep saying, there's a solution for that, and it's to take the profit motive our of medicine.  Maybe enough of these stories where drugmakers charge five or ten or thirty times the price for a life-saving medicine might get people to demand change.

We'll see.  Meanwhile, Mylan stock has tanked and the company has lost $3 billion in value and counting so far, so there's always the Invisible Hand Of The Market to smack people around with.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Clare Malone at Five Thirty Eight Politics asks:

Can Kellyanne Conway Get Donald Trump To Stop Alienating Women?

Short answer: No.

But it’s not just Trump who is on message in the battle to win back women voters — it’s Conway herself. 
A highly visible television presence already, she projects calm in a campaign marked by bluster and brash comments so far off the cuff as to be in the armpit. In a campaign that has earned its keep through television, Conway’s presence on nearly every political program of late seems as much a strategy as Trump’s softening rhetoric on the stump. Paul Manafort, in his pinstripes and power ties, was an Old Spice television presence, not doing much to complicate the perception that the Trump team was filled with anything other than middle-aged men. 
This is not to say that Conway is without her barbs. “You think you would know who Hillary Clinton is if she wasn’t married to Bill Clinton?” she said in a recently released clip from an upcoming documentary. She told the same documentary crew that many live polls were miscalculating Trump support because of stigma. “It’s become socially desirable, especially if you’re a college-educated person in the U.S., to say that you’re against Donald Trump,” she said. That claim is dubious at best. 
But Conway often mentions that she is a mother to “four young children” as she works through her television talking points. Conway says she doesn’t like personal insults. She seems at times like a one-woman chorus chanting “one of us, one of us” at college-educated and married women who might just be tuning in. “Big fan of yours,” Megyn Kelly told Conway at the end of an interview with her earlier this week. 
“It’s tough to be a woman in politics on either side of the aisle,” Celinda Lake, Conway’s co-author, told me. “She’s very smart about how she negotiates that.” Lake, who said Conway is “very smart about power and access,” will undoubtedly be a force trying to shape Trump behind the scenes, but that her utility as a public-facing campaign entity is undeniable. 
“Unlike the Breitbart guy, she’s not going to cause you any trouble,” Lake said, a reference to Bannon. 
The only question lingering around Conway is a simple one, Lake said. 
“Will Donald Trump really listen to her?”

Long answer:

“If someone shows you who they really are, believe them.”
-- Maya Angelou

Donald Trump has spent years showing us who he really is, and you think he's going to change now?

No. That would explain today's brutal Quinnipiac Universrity poll now showing Clinton up nationally by double digits.

In the battle of the unloved presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton tops the magical 50 percent mark among American likely voters, leading Republican Donald Trump 51 - 41 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today.

When third party candidates are added to the mix, Clinton gets 45 percent with Trump at 38 percent, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson at 10 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 4 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. This survey of likely voters can not be compared with results of earlier surveys of registered voters.

Women and non-white voters propel Clinton in the head-to-head matchup. Women back her 60 - 36 percent. Men back Trump 48 - 42 percent. White voters back Trump 52 - 41 percent. Non-white voters back Clinton 77 - 15 percent.

Also in that same poll, 90% of likely voters say they have made up their mind who they will vote for, so odds are extremely good that any changes Conway will bring to the Trump campaign are far too little and far too late.

"We are starting to hear the faint rumblings of a Hillary Clinton landslide as her 10-point lead is further proof that Donald Trump is in a downward spiral as the clock ticks," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

"Trump's missteps, stumbles and gaffes seem to outweigh Clinton's shaky trust status and perceived shady dealings. Wow, is there any light at the end of this dark and depressing chapter in American politics?"

Tick. Tick. Boom.

North Carolina Goes Down The Crapper, Con't

If this week's Monmouth University poll of North Carolina is any indication, GOP Gov. Pat McCrory's re-election bid is in real trouble.

In the contest for governor, Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper holds a significant 52% to 43% lead over incumbent Pat McCrory. Another 3% say they will vote for Libertarian Lon Cecil and 3% are undecided. 
Cooper has the support of 93% of Democratic voters, while McCrory gets the backing of 89% of Republicans. Independents are divided at 47% for Cooper and 45% for McCrory. Cooper has a net positive personal rating of 38% favorable and 18% unfavorable, with 44% expressing no opinion of him. McCrory’s personal rating is more divided at 39% favorable and 41% unfavorable, with 20% having no opinion of him. 
Importantly, Tar Heel voters are split on the incumbent’s performance as governor, with 45% approving of the job McCrory has done and 46% disapproving. A key element in the governor’s rating is his support for House Bill 2 or HB2, the controversial law that prohibits local governments from allowing for transgender public restrooms.

A majority of voters (55%) disapprove of HB2 compared to fewer than 4-in-10 (36%) who approve of HB2. Among voters who approve of the law, 74% are backing McCrory in the governor’s race. Among those who disapprove of it, 72% are voting for Cooper.
“McCrory is trying to take control of the HB2 debate with a new TV ad. As of right now, though, North Carolina voters feel it has hurt the state, which is helping Cooper’s bid to unseat the incumbent,” said Murray. 
The Monmouth University Poll found that 7-in-10 voters (70%) feel the passage of HB2 has been bad for North Carolina’s reputation nationally. Only 9% say it has been good for the state’s image and just 14% say it has had no impact. Even among those who approve of the law itself, 41% say HB2 has been bad for the state’s reputation compared to 21% who say it has been good and 28% who say it has had no impact.

The poll also shows Hillary Clinton up by 2, and GOP Sen. Richard Burr up by 2 in his re-election run against Deborah Ross, and even with the poll's high 4.9% MOE, McCrory is definitely running behind.

In fact, regardless of the Monmouth poll, the news for McCrory, Burr, and other NC Republicans is looking pretty grim.

Although the state has voted for a Republican president all but twice since 1968, the national tea party wave in 2010 brought the state legislature and governor’s mansion under Republican control for the first time since Reconstruction. North Carolina then moved rapidly to the right with several conservative reforms that caused an uproar among liberals in the state. 
Now, over the last few weeks as the possibility of tough election losses sinks in, top Republicans and some donors — who have had much to celebrate over the last six years — are trying to plot contingency plans to make up for the lack of field organization and advertising dollars from the Republican Party’s nominee to boost down-ballot candidates, sources say. 
Their fear is that a Trump loss by more than four or five points could put a dent in the party’s super majorities in the state legislature and a Democrat in the governor’s mansion, reversing the political course of the state. 
“I do think that people need to be very open eyed about what could potentially go wrong,” said one such top Republican who has been involved in discussions. “The sky isn’t falling, but it’s cloudy and we need to get in gear. It’s going to require a different level of organization and intervening from the top of the ticket than we’ve seen, and it’s going to require support from outside groups.”

So if support for Trump and McCrory starts to soften considerably, my home state could finally find the votes it needs to free itself from the Republicans who have been destroying it for the last six years.

Here's hoping.


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