Saturday, November 17, 2007

Prescription Drug Robberies!

Make sure you read all the way past the list of the drugs.

Reprinted from a personal communication from E.P.

"Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active ingredient in prescription medications?

Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet.

We did a search of offshore chemical synthesizers that supply the active ingredients found in drugs approved by the FDA. As we have revealed in past issues of Life Extension a significant percentage of drugs sold in the United States contain active ingredients made in other countries.

In our independent investigation of how much profit drug companies really make, we obtained the actual price of active ingredients used in some of the most popular dr ugs sold in America;

Celebrex: 100 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets): $130.27.
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.60
Percent markup: 21,712%

Claritin: 10 mg. Consumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71
Percent markup: 30,306%

Keflex: 250 mg. Consumer Price (100 tablets): $157.39
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.88
Percent markup: 8,372%

Lipitor: 20 mg. Consumer Price (100 tablets): $272.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80
Percent markup: 4,696%

Norvasc: 10 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets): $188.29.
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.14
Percent markup: 134,493%

Paxil: 20 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets): $220.27.
Cost of general active ingredients: $7.60
Percent markup: 2,898%

Prevacid: 30 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets): $44.77.
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.01
Percent markup: 34,136%

Prilosec : 20 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets): $360.97
Cost of general active ingredients $0.52
Percent markup: 69,417%

Prozac: 20 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets) : $247.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.11>
Percent markup: 224,973%

Tenormin: 50 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets): $104.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.13
Percent markup: 80,362%

Vasotec: 10 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets): $102.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.20
Percent markup: 51,185%

Xanax: 1 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets) : $136.79
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.024
Percent markup: 569,958%

Zestril: 20 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets) $89.89
Cost of general active ingredients $3.20
Percent markup: 2,809%

Zithromax: 600 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets): $1,482.19
Cost of general active ingredients: $18.78
Percent markup: 7,892%

Zocor: 40 mg. Consumer price (100 tablets): $350.27.
Cost of general active ingredients: $8.63
Percent markup: 4,059%

Zoloft: 50 mg. Consumer price: $206.87.
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.75
Percent markup: 11,821%

Since the cost of prescription drugs is so outrageous, I thought everyone should know about this. It pays to shop around!

This helps to solve the mystery as to why they can afford to put a Walgreen's on every corner.

On Monday night, Steve Wilson, an investigative reporter for Channel 7 News in Detroit , did a story on generic drug prices gouging by pharmacies. He found in his investigation that some of these generic drugs were marked up as much as 3,000% or more.

So often we blame the drug companies for the high cost of drugs, and usually rightfully so. But in this case, the fault clearly lies with the pharmacies themselves. For example if you had to buy a prescription drug, and bought the name brand, you might pay $100 for 100 pills.

The pharmacist might tell you that if you get the generic equivalent, they would only cost $80, making you think you are saving $20. What the pharmacist is not telling you is that those 100 generic pills may have only cost him $10!

At the end of the report, one of the anchors asked Mr. Wilson whether or not there were any pharmacies that did not adhere to this practice, and he said that Costco consistently charged little over their cost for the generic drugs.

I went to the Costco site, where you can look up any drug, and get its online price. It says that the in-store prices are consistent with the online prices.

I was appalled. Just to give you one example from my own experience I had to use the drug Compazine which helps prevent nausea in chemo patients. I used the generic equivalent, which cost $54.99 for 60 pills at CVS.

I checked the price at Costco, and I could have bought 100 pills for $19.89. For 145 of my pain pills, I paid $72.57. I could have got 150 at Costco for $28.08.

I would like to mention, that although Costco is a "membership" type store, you do NOT have to be a member to buy prescriptions there as it is a federally regulated substance. You just tell them at the door that you wish to use the pharmacy, and they will let you in.

I am asking each of you to please help me by copying this letter, and passing it into your own e-mail, and send it to everyone you know with an e-mail address.

Sharon L. Davis
Budget Analyst
U.S. Department of Commerce
Room 6839
Office Ph: 202-482-4458
Office Fax: 202-482-5480"

This ongoing defrauding of An]merican health consumers is sanctioned by the US Goverment and will continue until and unless consumers say enough and star voting with their healt care dollars.

We are MAD, you decide!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

UC Regents--Sweet & Low v. Cocaine?

University of California Regent John Moores, who had previously expressed frustration that the UC governing board lacked independence and acted as a tool of UC President Robert Dynes' administration, unexpectedly resigned Monday. (SF Chronicle, Nov 13, 2007)

Mr. Moores, a constant vocal critic of the UC board recently expressed disappointment that the governing board turned down his resolution to ban UC faculty and staff from accepting research money from tobacco companies, which he blamed for "a billion deaths."

In a stunning defeat for the People of California, his September 2007 resolution was rejected on a 14-4 vote Mr. Moores, Chairman of the San Diego Padres and Chairman of JMI Services Inc. has demonstrated more scientific integrity than most UCLA scientists, UC Regents and Times published authors combined.

By putting his money where his mouth is (Moores has been a generous supporter of the university, donated $21 million to UC San Diego for a new cancer center) Mr. Moores clearly understands that a result of any study is pre-determined by its design and objective.

In case of tobacco research, the "objective" is set by the payor—the Big Tobacco. Same Big Tobacco that has doubled its advertising budgets in the past year!?

Hence, the results of animal studies are skewed in favor of the payor. Given the pre-determined results of animal studies and its limited scientific applicability to humans (less than margin of error), Mr. Moores' resignation is morally correct and scientifically sound.

Unfortunately for its readership, the Los Angeles Times does not follow Mr. Moores’ socially responsible actions and continues to enforce an editorial agenda by refusing to publish letters expressing a solid, scientific, but opposing, opinion.

LA Times printed two more letters in support of animal research. Researchers working in the addictions fields do “unravel the scientific mysteries of these devastating medical disorders and bringing much-needed relief to those afflicted and their families””.

UCLA squanders hundreds of millions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to turn monkeys into tweakers, while drug rehabilitation centers flounder due to lack of funds to assist the hundreds of thousands of ready-made human tweakers.

Uselessness of animal research and its inability to be approximated to human-relevant data is best illustrated by the results of a study presented this week in San Diego at the Society of Neuroscience.

Scientists at University of Bordeaux, France demonstrated that rats overwhelmingly prefer saccharin to cocaine.

Both sugar and cocaine increase levels of the brain chemical dopamine. Unfortunately for rats and humans though, through a completely different brain mechanism.

Such a mammalian response in rats means absolutely nothing to human substance addiction model, but at least the French kept the rats happy.

Abused animals do not need any “relief from researchers”, since the occurrence of substance addiction in the wild and/or well-run Zoo is simply nonexistent.

Now, if only UCLA researchers can train humans in the wild to seek out water sweetened by Sweet & Low, some of the millions awarded to UCLA to hook primates might be redirected toward those more laudable endeavors.

We are Making a Difference (MAD), you decide.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Great American Smokeout of just a Great Smoke Screen?

According to the results of a national survey conducted in 2006 roughly 1 in 5 adults in the US smoke cigarettes, a figure that has not changed much since 2004.

The new findings, which appeared in the November 9th issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, were released in advance of Great American Smokeout, to be held this year on November 15.

About 80% of current users reported smoking every day. Roughly 44% of current smokers had made an attempt to quit smoking in previous year and had stopped for more than 1 day.

This lack of decline in cigarette smoking is accompanied by simultaneous (and growing-400 so far) proliferation of hookah bars/clubs as a "safer" social (group activity) alternative.

Smoking cessation methodology probably failed due to the fact that most laboratory studies are conducted on non-humans. Dr. Edythe London, a leading researcher at UCLA, recently admitted in her Op-Ed article in LA Times that animal tobacco dependency model is completely different from that of humans.

Even Dr.London might concede that animals (primates) in the wild can rarely be found in hookah bars surrounded by the rest of the pack equipped with laptops.

In a recent (November 7, 2007) article in the LA Times by Animal Liberation Front (ALF) spokeswoman Lindy Greene claims that “data from one species cannot be extrapolated to another with more than 5% to 25% accuracy”

With 30% being within the acceptable margin of error for any study, Dr. London’s “esteemed” animal research is nothing more than a very expensive (for taxpayers and consumers) guesstimating.

Animal researchers, driven by quest for publishable data and financial well-being, solely dependent on grants from corrupt manufacturers, might do better by just flipping a coin--50% success rate.

Further, the study claims that smoking prevalence differed by gender and race: 23.9% of men vs. 18.0% of women smoked and 10.4% of Asians vs. 21.9% of whites were smokers. In addition, smoking prevalence fell as educational level rose and increased with poverty.

Studies at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences demonstrated that despite African-American children's having a lower exposure to tobacco compared to whites, they have higher levels of serum nicotine than white children.

Further studies are needed to determine whether there are racial differences in the metabolism of other tobacco-related toxins and to assess the efficacy of interventions to reduce ETS exposure among all children.

Race is not a definitive biologic construct, but rather an imprecise arbitrary categorization that is a proxy for multifaceted cross-connected environmental, cultural, socioeconomic, and biologic variables almost insurmountable in its complexity.

I dare Dr. London & Co. to account for all of the critical variables and to publicly admit that animal research can be only approximated, at best, to humans--a far cry from human-relevant data!?

The absurdity of continued animal research is propagated by unscrupulous pharmaceutical manufacturers, their “pet” scientists and the FDA despite the multiple thousands of consumer injuries and deaths every year from adverse reactions to drugs tested "safe" in animals (VIOXX any one?) and, conversely, causes potentially beneficial drugs tested "unsafe" to be discarded.

ALF’s methodology of protecting “creatures that society would arbitrarily place outside the circle of moral compassion and beyond the reach of effective defense” fails to properly use science to educate general public through mass media.

I firmly believe that only a strong outcry form educated public coupled with public refusal to buy products implicated in animal testing/abuse can make a tangible difference for the animals.

We are MAD, you decide!


P.S. Making a Difference---MAD

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Where do I stand on the issues of animal research.

I am a relatively new, at least publicly, opponent of animal research.

First, and foremost, I unconditionally condemn violence in any shape or form against individuals, organizations and/or their property. Further, I believe that attacks on researchers and their institution by some radical groups seriously undermines their own credibility as well as the legitimacy of mainstream organizations.

Hence, I am not and will never be associated with any individuals, groups and/or organizations that either commit, promote or condone violence as means to achieve their goals.

Second, my objections to animal research are purely scientific since animal-based research is foundationally flawed. Data obtained from animal research data can not be extrapolated to manufacture human-relevant information. There are numerous viable alternatives to produce human-specific data without the use and abuse of animals.

In additional to cell preparations, transgenic modeling, and live human volunteers (please see my early postings on the issue), yet another alternative to using ill-suited animal models could be the use of aborted fetuses and tissues and organs from recently deceased humans.

Fetuses aborted during the first trimester (legally one can do it only up to 10 weeks) provide a representative sample of tissues needed for the study of most biological processes.

I am referring only to fetuses that are already legally aborted. I will neither condone nor condemn legal abortion or legality of abortion.

Organs and tissues could be "kept alive" in recently deceased humans and then used for the studies of toxicity mechanisms.

For example: instead of sacrificing 40-50 rats and "blending" their livers to study the toxicity of alcohol, one can use the liver of a car-crash victim for the same purpose but with better results that are actually applicable to human physiology and relevant to studies of human disease model.

Despite my personal and professional objections to tactics and actions sometimes employed by the Animal Liberation Movement, and my disagreement with the published statements of its Press Officer Dr. Jerry Vlasak, I felt compelled to object to Los Angeles Times Editorial policies and actions and its childish mistreatment of Jerry Vlasak, MD, FACS.

Here is a copy of my "surprisingly" unpublished letter to the Editors of LA Times of November 2, 2007:


When the only paper in Los Angeles market decides to take a position on animal research (or any other issue) instead of reporting, and decides to suppress opposing views of similarly qualified professionals it should not be surprised with its shrinking circulation and profits.

LA Times made an editorial decision to condone animal testing and to deprive its readership from any formation about many scientifically valid ways to rapidly diminish and/or totally eliminate the need for laboratory animals.

Your publication of Dr. Vlasak's letter with the intentional omission of his professional titles and affiliations does not limit his credibility but does place the shame on you. Not extending this common courtesy to Dr. Vlasak while affording it to all other authors again proves your bias and, in fact diminishes your paper credibility and will hopefully result in further financial losses for the paper.

Intelligent compassionate people of LA enabled by the Internet will find the truth and spread the word."

We are MAD, you decide!


P.S. Making a Difference! (MAD)

Monday, November 5, 2007

"Why do I use animals in research" or " Why do I abduct, detain, confine, mutilate, torture and kill animals" by Dr. E. London

Unfortunately for animals used in research Dr. London conducts those sadistic actions without animals expressed consent to participate in her research activities.

The damage inflicted to Dr. London's residence is stupid and reprehensible. Dr. London's fight against addiction to nicotine, methamphetamine and other drugs is admirable. Her use of primates and other animals is incomprehensible. Her justifications for use of animals in non-clinical research could not further away from truth.

Further, she deliberately avoids discussion of non-animal research options such as cell cultures, transgenic modeling and human volunteers to name a few.

Human volunteers recruited among prison inmates, well meaning researchers, executives of pharmaceutical and tobacco companies and their respective family members can provide a new dimension to research--subject's reporting, interactive feedback and ability to follow instructions.

Properly designed and conducted human volunteers study, with preference given to aforementioned groups, will reveal human-specific, hence human-relative data.

These (human) studies are much more likely to be conducted in an ethical and cruelty-free manner, with proper consent, compensation (except for inmates), pain relief, psychological counselling and treatment of any and all complications and adverse outcomes. ACLU can monitor compliance.

In her article Dr. London contradicts herself stating that “While monkeys receive drugs in the laboratory, they do not become “addicted” in the same sense that human…” So why torture monkeys and other animals when there are millions of potential human volunteers stupid enough to subject themselves to tobacco and other addictive substances.

Such (human) studies will invariably yield human-specific hence human-relevant information.

Being a child of Holocaust does not give one a license to inflict Holocaust on animals by using them in research. If nothing else it should have made Dr. London more sensitive to the plight of the weak and defenseless.

Without condoning violence in any shape or form I would like to point out that use and abuse of animals is UCLA researchers is funded and promoted by greedy pharmaceutical companies, such as Amgen that is in serious financial straits due to recent changes in reimbursement for its drugs.

In addition to promoting and conducting animal research (Amgen maintains an extensive vivarium where animals are routinely used for research) by UCLA through its clandestine invitation-only seminars promoting animal research (last conducted October 28, 2007) Amgen simultaneously taints the objectivity and validity of researcher conducted by UCLA.

Hiding behind frequently used and abused "unrestricted educational grant" can not fool any one, Hence, Dr. London's acceptance of tobacco company's money seriously jeopardises UCLA's standing as an "independent third party" seeker of truth!?

I challenge UCLA officials, leadership of Amgen, leadership of tobacco companies, and prominent researches to open a productive dialogue with mainstream activist to reduce and finally eliminate use of animals in research ( and related abuse and exploitation) in favor of genetic modeling and/or use of human volunteers.

We are MAD, you decide.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Practical Alternative to Animal Research, or What Amgen Does Not Want You to Know?

Sporadic displays of animal cruelty by the likes of Michael Vick and Ellen DeGeneres usually get plenty of media coverage and generate necessary public outcry.

However, ongoing acts of animal abuse committed under the auspices of scientific necessity to “ensure and enhance human and animal health and protection of the environment” remain unnoticed by media and general public (1).

The justification used by researchers for use of animal-only model studies can be found in a handout distributed by Dr. Robert F. Phalen(2) during his clandestine lecture at Amgen, Inc. Corporate HQ October 28, 2007:

“…there is no more powerful tool for protecting human health than the combination of well conducted animal experiments and well conducted epidemiological experiments” Rall (1979).

“…a large number of values for man coincided with remarkable accuracy for the 70 kg animal”, Krasovski (1976).

“…these survey results support the value of in vivo toxicology studies to predict for many human toxicities associated with pharmaceuticals…”, Olson et all. (2000).

“…the human genome is remarkably similar to that of evolutionary ancient organism. Thus, the various life forms on earth share much more in common than anyone had previously envisioned”. Ballatori and Vilalobos (2002).

The Society of Toxicology (SOT) claims that research involving laboratory animals is “necessary” and that “research animals must be used in a responsible manner”. Therefore, according to Dr. Phalen, it is “…unethical to block or impede well-designed, humane animal studies”.

Unfortunately for animals, and despite the alleged strict adherence to the rules and regulations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) [P.L. 89-544] and the Health Research Extension Act [P.L.99-158] all animal studies in the world are missing a critical component— informed consent.

Interestingly, both the SOT and Dr. Phalen concede that there are major anatomical differences between humans, mammals, and other laboratory animals that might render results obtained from animal studies to be of limited value.

The SOT and most scientists further concede that animal studies proven less than reliable because in addition to anatomical and resulting physiological (functioning) differences, lifespan of laboratory animals is short; human disease models are generally poor; appropriate “metrics” are poorly understood; mass alone is seldom used; dosage comparisons across species are difficult (3); and individual differences are extremely large.

There are many exciting promising ways to conduct laboratory studies without use of laboratory animals.

With the entire sequence of human genome now deciphered, specific human genetic mutations might be induced and quantified in a cell culture; using organism into which human genes have been incorporated (transgenic systems) and many others. Such methods will enable the scientist to use solid experimental evidence to predict human diseases without use and abuse of animals.

Pending development and practical implementation of these technologies, the SOT’s
stated goal
“…scientifically-valid research design to reduce, refine or replace the need for laboratory animals” falls short of offering the only logical solution—use of human volunteers with proper informed consent.

With the high and ever-rising costs of “housing” inmates in our jail system ($45,000.00 per inmate per year in California) and a burgeoning prison population, there is an untapped resource of human volunteers who might be willing and ready to redeem themselves by participating in laboratory studies.

Given prisons being a true society reflection, scientists should not have any problems recruiting age, race, size, gender-diverse volunteers willing to contribute.

Accurate human-derived (hence human-relevant) data can rapidly diminish or totally eliminate the need for laboratory animals now used and abused to ensure and enhance human health and protection of the environment.

We are MAD, you decide!

1. The Society of Toxicology (SOT) 1821 Michael Faraday Dr., Suite 300, Reston, VA 21090;
phone (703) 438-31135; fax (703) 438-3113;;

2. Robert F. Phalen, PhD, Professor of Community & Environmental Medicine, College of
Medicine, Univ. of California Irvine CA.

3. Jarabek et al., 2005; Kuempel et al., 2006

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dimwit SB (Sanders)

There is absolutely nothing funny about Jim Sanders article, “Light bulb legislator strives for bright ideas. Elephants are also on radar of Lloyd Levine, who wants to 'do big things".

Surely Assemblyman Levine might be biting off more than he can chew, but the only people who don’t’ make mistakes are the ones who do nothing.

There is nothing wrong with his applying for “The Bachelor” show (he is an attractive bachelor), or being a “huge Bruce Springsteen fan.”

I don't believe Mr. Levine’s physical stats, his dating, running or musical habits, etc are of any relevance to his functioning as a State Legislator.

Similarly, maintaining high visibility is critical for any Assemblyman preparing to run for California State Senate.

Levine is definitely not marching to the tune of “Sanders drummers” such as John Benoit and crude former (thank you!) Assemblyman Mountjoy, who would rather prolong the pain and suffering of terminal patients, supported by the Republican Party.

As chairman of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee, Levine drew criticism last week for traveling to Japan with other legislators, regulators and various officials in the energy and telecommunications fields, which his committee regulates.

According to Sanders “…The purpose of the trip was to tour Japan and discuss telecommunications and energy technology”, which is already much better than Pelosi’s trip to Syria that was paid for by US taxpayers and had no stated purpose.

We believe the real reason for this disrespectful article is in direct retaliation for Assemblyman Levine’s on-going support for Californians right to self determination and choices based on informed decisions.

This tongue-in-cheek attack by Sanders and the Sacramento Bee comes on the heels of State Assembly Judiciary Committee approval of AB 374, and in support of undue pressure on State Legislators from the Catholic Church and Cardinal Mahony.

Shame on Sacramento Bee for their attempt to slander an outstanding California legislator, mover and shaker, and policy maker.

We gripe, you decide!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Kudos to Assemblyman Mark Leno...

... for the introduction of AB 1472(Leno): The California Healthy Places Act

Our health is largely determined by where we live, work, and play.

The California Healthy Places Act would provide technical assistance and grants to community organizations and local health agencies to evaluate land-use planning decisions to ensure that they create and maintain communities that promote health, through the new California Department of Public Health.

According to the Institute of Medicine, improving health in the 21st century will require new approaches to environmental health, including strategies to deal with unhealthy buildings, urban congestion, poor housing, poor nutrition, and environmentally-related stress.

Health impact assessments can provide important evidence to back up community positions and concerns, giving communities a direct role in asking and answering questions important to healthy growth, whether those questions come from an environmental justice, environmental health, economic justice or other community perspective.

It provides community organizations with political and economic power in planning decisions that equals that of big developers and corrupt politicians who support them.

It’s about time to give Californians a say in the way their communities are being developed/preserved and the way their money is being spent.

We gripe, you decide.

Be Well!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

How much is that Congressman in the window?... the question that might be easily answered by the Pharmaceutical companies and their trade associations; they spent a record $155 million lobbying Congress from January 2005 through June 2006, according to a study released on Sunday by the Center for Public Integrity, Bloomberg/Chicago Tribune reports (Bloomberg/Chicago Tribune, 4/3).

Drug makers dispatched about 1,100 agents to lobby congressional committees and administration offices during each of the last two years, the study found. The drug industry was successful in achieving some of its major goals, such as upholding a government ban on the reimportation of prescription drugs, according to the study.

The drug industry also was successful in blocking legislation that would have allowed the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare, the report found.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the "battles are expected to be fought more fiercely this year" with a Democratic majority in Congress.

Here is the tool for Democratic Congress that I've introduced earlier this year--Pharmaceutical Ethical Marketing & Manufacturing (PEMM©) Index, which is a ratio of the R&D budget to the Marketing & Administration & Lobbying budgets by each Pharma company across all product lines (% of, or actual expenditures).

Currently, the industry-wide PEMM© index is around 0.35. It means that only 35 cents of each Pharma dollars goes to actual reseach and development. The remaining 65 cents of each dollar is spent on marketing, lobbying and administration. This index will serve as rough, but sorely needed, guide for health consumers and providers.

Let's see if the Pharma companies dare to disclose their index to Congress and to Americans!

Shame on Americans for allowing the rip-off by pharmaceutical companies protected by Congress!

Be Well

Shame on Religious "WRONG"...

State Sen. McClintock and Cardinal Mahony are misguided at best, or deliberately wrong on the issues of assisted suicide.

McClintock essentially argued that "we don't need a law to allow people to pursue an option that is already available to them. There are many simple, painless ways to end it all, if one is of a mind to do so".

The conservative Republican says that advocates of the assisted suicide are really seeking our collective approval: "As a society, Do we really want to stand on the pavement and shout, "Jump!"?

It appears the the ultra-conservative former candidate for Gov. "totally lost it", as he advocates and encourages felonious conduct by health care providers and patient's families, rather than supporting the legal dignified procedure requested by the medical consumer.

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony denounced Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez for supporting the bill and accused Nunez of being part of the "culture of death." Cardinal Mahony should worry about protecting our youth from his pedophile priests and instructing them not to lie under oath.

Cardinal Mahony’s sentiments will be echoed in churches across California. Parishioners will be asked to contact Assembly members, especially Latino majority.

Catholic Church should be separate from State Legislature as state government is not an enforcement arm for Catholic doctrine. Legislators who don't understand the separation of church and government should be removed from the State Legislature!

Be Well!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Don't be a pig, when you are in the driver's seat...

...proclaims a recently photographed billboard in Kiev, Ukraine.

It is unfortunate that the California "Governator" does not get to pass by it.

"Selecting" only doctors and hospitals for higher taxation to finance his version of "Zelda's Single Payor Legend" (see older postings), is not just unfair--it's out right stupid.

Whether the Gov. calls it a "fee" or "stooped tax", it will tap 2% of doctors revenues and 4% of hospitals revenues to pay for his "universal" health care.

The Governor also wants his "universal health care" extended, obviously for free, to all illegal immigrants, both currently in California and the 10-15 million of them that will be attracted by free "universal health care".

As a matter of fact, selective taxation only of health care providers makes as much sense as mandating a new "California universal toilet paper".

People who support the Gov. should realize that all increases if implemented, will be passed on to them in a form of higher doctors and hospitals fees, refusals to take care of the indigent, and higher insurance premiums for all legal Californians.

This way not just the health care, but its financing will be universal.

As a physician and a seasoned consultant, I am offering a 3-prong free advice to the Governor:

*stop being a Pig a in the Driver's Seat and leave doctors and hospitals alone,
*impose an additional 2% tax on revenues of your fellow actors, producers, directors, movie
studios and TV executives;
*impose an additional 4% on the revenues of Pharmaceutical, Insurance, Banking, Hi-Tech, Bio-
Tech companies conducting business in California .

Surely, there are as many rich and righteous folk as there are physicians and hospitals whose profit margins are higher than actual providers of health care.

We observe, you decide!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Kudos to AFL-CIO, its Members and Affiliates…

…for their effort to address “mangled health care" head-on!

In Thursday, March 22, 2007 edition of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Anya Sostek, staff writer, writes (excerpted with commentaries by Dr. Dorodny):

“…The "Health Care Hustle" Web site invites readers to submit their stories of being broken down and bruised by the health-care system.

The site which opened to the public yesterday and to members last week, already has attracted more than 500 responses,
which is only a drop-in-the bucket, considering the daily obstacles workers and their families need to overcome to access appropriate health carING.

Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO which represents about 1.5 million Americans who are not part of labor unions encourages users to send automated messages to "greedy corporations," the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the insurance industry and the Bush administration.

According to Ms. Karen Nussbaum of Working America, the organization plans to launch a major campaign against the "evildoers" who receives the most votes against them.

The “evildoers” only care about their executive compensation, stock options, share prices, private jets, etc.

Currently, workers and their Unions have only themselves to blame for proliferation of and the abuse by the “evildoers” that are “just doing their jobs”.

Strive for universal access to appropriate and affordable health carING is an achievable, but a long-tem undertaking. Universal payer/single payer proposals are abundant, problematic and deceiving.

"The trade union movement today is both more embattled and smaller, and that means that it has to use the weapons of the week," said Prof. Lichtenstein (UCSB). "It's the same thing that any agitational group who is out of power would do."

But creative media campaigns will not properly address what’s on the mind of every worker: health carING. Address these issues and watch your membership and your power soar.

Organize your members and move from an "agitational group" to an enabling one.
Unfortunately, sending automated messages to “greedy corporations” will not work either.

It will not work because Pharma Manufacturers only care about their profit margins. Please read the “NEW Prescription for Pharma Marketing” and related postings on this site.

Similarly, insurance companies have core values divergent from those of workers and their families.

In addition to the conflicting core values, “business disconnects” exist due to logistical, financial, physical and ethical aspects of mangled health care:

*The workers and their families usually does not request, do not order or directly pay for the services.

*The insurance companies, HMOs, never request, do not receive, nor order the services.

*The doctors who order the services do not pay for them, nor receive the services.

Insurance companies, HMOs and other "mangled" health care companies entire purpose is to grab as many pennies from workers health care dollar as they are allowed to by the workers.

They do grab a sizable chunk: 15 cents out of every healthcare dollar without actually working, being sick or providing services.

Sign me up!

The lame-duck President Bush did not care about the worker even before he became a lame duck.

Dear Unions,

Please return to your basic focus on collective bargaining and controlling the purse strings, with a clear understanding of the fact that employees are the buyers (direct and/or indirect) of health carING services.

Employees are the buyers of health care and should drive, if not control, all health caRING decisions.

Workers and their families can request and receive health carING from doctors, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals, labs, pharmaceutical companies, etc, without mangled care companies.

Doctors, nurses, pharmacist, hospitals, labs, pharmaceutical companies, etc, can provide health carING without mangled care companies.

Workers and their families can pay for health carING without mangled care companies.

Employees and their Unions do not need the middle men (employer, insurance company, managed “mangled” care company and its stockholders) to take a 15 cent bite out of every health carING dollar!

I, for one, am willing to make a difference and show the way!

We gripe, you decide.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Shame on John Edwards...

...for shamelessly exploiting the unfortunate progression of his wife's cancer. Her previous bouts of cancer did not stop Mr. Edwards from campaigning in 2004 when his wife was receiving chemotherapy. Her psychological scars of abandonment are probably still healing.

Shame on Mr. Edwards for using his wife's now fatal condition to "breed new life" into his losing candidacy for President

Fortunately, during my 32 years of carING for patients with cancer and other terminal diseases (with and without social stigma attached) I only came across one patient, and one next of kin that were actively publicizing and benefiting from their terminal diseases.

Both individuals were illegally abandoned by their "mangled care" insurance companies, and were doing so to collect funds for life-prolonging treatments.

Fortunately for Mrs. Edwards, she appears to be able to afford the best care available in this country without participating in a public debate and discussion of her most sacred possession: her life--a "living monument" to her husband's ambitions, despite his floundering campaign.

Shame oh her physicians for their willing participation in Mrs. Edwards' joint CNN-FOX disease management circus, and for possible HIPAA violations.

Mr. Edwards' time "invested" in press releases, news conferences, TV appearances, etc might have had a "higher return" should he engage in private carING for his wife.

I wonder if Mr. Edwards can ride the "sympathy wave" long enough to make a difference?

We gripe, you decide.

Be Well!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Hospital Association High-Ranking Executive Attacks Patient Advocates...

...over our recent postings regarding illegal and unethical dumping of patients by at least two hospitals, both HASC members.

If a similar act of dumping was committed by the local animal shelter, if would be braking news on all major networks.

Since patients they dump are of lower socio-economic status, chronically ill, and already medically underserved, the member hospitals believe they can get away with it.

Obviously, they also believe that "shushing" at the advocates would make us (advocates), and their illegal actions go away.

At around 06:16 p.m., today March 16, 2007, we received the following e-mail from Lott (also posted by Lott as a comment on this blog):

"Hey Bob-- After reviewing how you used my last reply to your unsolicited email request that HASC respond to your blog, l just want to wish you and Dorodny all the best in your all-too-obvious quest for attention and to create a following with your extremist positions and comments. Regards, Jim Lott"

This e-mail communication from a professional publicity seeker, was preceded by an unsolicited phone call from Lott to Mr. Robert A. Donin, MPA earlier this afternoon.

During the 3 minute phone call, Mr. Donin, a well-known and respected volunteer health consumer Advocate, was reportedly subjected to personal insults by Lott in his Executive HASC capacity.

Such personal attacks by hospitals' well compensated mouthpiece and policy/communications "leader" on un-compensated health consumers Advocates is the best illustration of their unfair business practices.

A personal apology from Lott to Mr. Donin is in order. So is the immediate intervention by State and Federal authorities to prevent future atrocities against health consumers and along the lines of the earlier posting "Patient Dumping: A Lott of Accusations" (see below).

They dump patients, try to get away with it, and attack advocates. We advocate. You decide.

Patient Dumping: a Lott of accusations

Here is the e-mail we received from Mr. Jim Lott, director of communications for Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) in response to our posting of March 14, 2007 "Kaiser Permanente Arraignment".
Subject: RE: Possible Spam: "Kaiser Permanente arraignment..."
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 17:34:54 -0700From: "Jim Lot, "
CC: "Mark Gamble"Trudy Duncan" "Jennifer Bayer"

Dear Mr. Donin,
I am saddened and chagrinned by the unenlightened comments made by Dr.Dorodny in your/his blog. Not only would I expect a health care practitioner to have a better understanding of the issues involved with so-called patient dumping, but I think it is irresponsible of him (and you) to imply by the content in your blog that Kaiser is guilty of the charges filed and should be punished...before a trial has taken place. What about due process? I believe in free speech, but Dr. Dorodny's comments are irresponsible. Please consider that to be our (HASC) response to your invitation.
Jim Lott
In further review of the available information, I have to agree with Mr. Lott that naming just the Kaiser Hospital was irresponsible on my part.

Hence, I am going to act in a socially and professionally responsible manner by citing the most recent patient dumping by Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (HPMC) of a 41-year-old paraplegic man left in soiled hospital gown, without a wheelchair, on the curb by a hospital-hired van as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Acting in a responsible manner , the office of the Los Angeles city attorney has begun investigating whether staff from Hollywood Presbyterian hospital dumped a paraplegic man in a gutter in front of a local mission.

Unfortunately, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center continues to act irresponsibly in refusing to cooperate with authorities conducting the investigation.

California does not have a State law prohibiting patient dumping, so the LA city attorney's office can only sue Kaiser and Hollywood Presbyterian under state law used to deal with unfair business practices (typically used to prosecute slum lords).

Kaiser Permanente is aslo being pursued on false-imprisonment charges for allegedly leaving a homeless woman on Skid Row last year.

The federal government, however--not the LA city attorney's office--would decide whether this behavior also violates EMTALA.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center has already hired the crisis management firm Sitrick and Co . to help weather the storm of criticism, in an attempt to defuse the situation.

The money would have been better spent on hiring additional social workers and creating a responsible and legal way to discharge patients without skid-row dumping.

The hospital is also quoted as saying that in the future it will require: “…the individual provide written consent to any transportation”—an irresponsible proposal considering that the two recently dumped patients are suffering from diminished mental capacity and are unable to give informed consent.

In answering Mr. Lott’s rhetorical question: ” ...What about due process?” we ask Mr. Lott, what about patients’ due process?

Ms. Jennifer Bayer, public affairs director for the Hospital Association of Southern California, was recently quoted saying fines and arrests are not productive.

We beg to disagree and suggest the following enlightened steps:

Hospitals should be penalized financially in a severe manner sufficient to erode their bottom line;

State of California should immediately suspend hospital's license to operate;

Hospital executives should be held civilly and criminally responsible for patient dumping;

The LA City Attorney office should prosecute them to the fullest extent allowable by law for unfair business practices, false imprisonment and any and all other charges they could come up with.

State Legislature should immediately criminalize patient dumping and attach mandatory jail terms.

Federal authorities should intervene immediately to investigate the violation of patients civil rights and to enforce EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act).

In the meantime, each sentinel event ("sentinel" because they signal the need for immediate investigation and response) of patient dumping by an accredited hospital should be reported to the Joint Commission for an immediate review of hospital's accreditation and suspension of its Medicare funding. Click here to download Sentinel Events Policy and Procedures

They dump and try to get away with it, we gripe and get called names, you decide!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Kudos to the California Association of Physician Groups (CAPG)...

... and its President Mr. Donald H. Crane for the recent decision by CAPG’s Public Policy Committee to support AB 374, the Compassionate Choices Act.

The Committee was strongly drawn to the proven, seven year experience of a very similar law in Oregon.

By giving patients facing imminent and inevitable death the option of self-administering life ending medication, the law ushered in a host of important improvements to end-of-life care: increased referrals to hospice care; improved pain management services; a rise in comfort care teams and high attendance at end-of-life seminars for physicians.

Most importantly, a marked increase in the difficult task of physicians and families of engaging in frank conversations about end-of-life options.

The Committee acknowledged that a minority of physicians may oppose this bill, but observed that the participation by physicians was strictly at their option and that this bill
presented a real opportunity to genuinely improve patient care.

CAPG decides, we do NOT gripe, you decide.

Be Well!

Kaiser Permanente Arraingment... being held today in a Los Angeles court.

In adherence to its motto "Customer is always wrong", Kaiser is charged with dumping a confused homeless person in the downtown skid row upon her release from a Kaiser hospital.

In addition to sending some of the Kaiser executives to jail and imposing sky-high fines (to benefit health services for the homeless), the court should sentence the remaining Kaiser national and regional executives to 48 hours sentence by walking around downtown dressed only in a hospital gown without money, food or shelter.

State of California must revoke Kaiser's license to operate, unless and until dumping of patients is thoroughly investigated and prevented from happening in the future.

It's about time we speak with Kaiser in their own language-profits!

Kaiser dumps, we gripe, you decide.

Be Well!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dr. Sokolov's 378 Thousand Reasons...

...for not-caring about the patients and for his "green outlook" on health carING.

To be more specific, there are more than 377,952 reasons for Dr. Sokolov to care more about his clients than he cares about patients/health consumers.

In it's eternal wisdom, the Editor of Modern Healthcare elected to ignore our posting "Health Consumers & Mr. Inlander v AMGA & Dr. Sokolov" of March 6, 2007.

$377,952.16 is just the face value (of 03/13/2007) of Dr. Sokolov's 9,622 shares of Hospira Pharmaceutical that he owns as a Director.

Modern Healthcare editor's core value reflect his allegiance to his advertisers, and their core values (profit) divergent with that of health consumers.

Once a throw-away publication, always a throw away publication.

We gripe, you decide.

Be Well!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Health Consumers & Mr. Inlander v AMGA & Jacque Sokolov, MD

Excerpted from Michael Romano's article in the latest edition of Modern Healthcare :

"It’s hardly a secret that the doctors and managers who run the nation’s biggest multi-specialty group practices...firmly believe that their model of integrated delivery is the very best way to provide patients with quality health carING.

Despite the traditional belief, doctor does not always know best! Especially a doctor-turned-consultant-turned-executive-turned investor.

Last week, the Alexandria, Va.-based American Medical Group Association, the trade group for all those large medical groups, held its annual conference over four days at the luxurious Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The self-satisfied (God-like) attitude of many AMGA members took a (bit) serious and fully deserved beating from Charles Inlander, noted naysayer (read patient/health consumer advocate) and the outspoken president of the People’s Medical Society since the consumer-advocacy group was founded 24 years ago".

“... the reason you’ve (AMGA) been losing the war (health care policy) is because the focus hasn’t been on the patient. It’s been on the delivery system.”

"For some reason—token, balance, perhaps—the conference organizers invited the consumer gadfly to join a panel discussion.

Panel participants, of course, were the button-down industry veterans to Inlander’s version of a tie-dyed radical about to storm the gates and bring down the system.

After suggesting that universal healthcare is inevitable sometime in the next several years because the public will demand it, he reinforced his point about the industry’s lack of sincere concern for patients by mentioning a keynote address one day earlier by Jacque Sokolov, a physician-turned-consultant and an impressive speaker"

"But, according to Inlander, this highly regarded expert never mentioned the P-word. “Jacque never once mentioned the word ‘patient’ in a 50-minute speech..."-noted Inlander.

Dr. Jacque J. Sokolov is indeed a highly experienced and accomplished expert on most aspects of health care.

I have personally known Dr. Sokolov since early 90-s, and had the distinct privilege of associating with him on a number of projects, as well as on health care panels, forums, and on the speaker circuit.

Dr. Sokolov practically invented employer-directed managed care as Vice President and Medical Director at Southern California Edison Co—HealthFlex, and, thus became one of the co-authors of the "mangled health carING"---see this blog archive ("Mangled Healthcare" for All).

Unfortunately for then Edison employees, they were not considered to be part of the equation. Otherwise, Dr. Sokolov would have bypassed the archaic "patient-centric", and would have gone straight to the appropriate "health consumer (payors)-directed".

Fortunately for Dr. Sokolov, that position made him a national name in health care and helped launch his worldwide consulting business.

In the ensuing years, Dr. Sokolov served as top executive with Advanced Health Plans Inc. and AHP Development Corp. to "
develop, finance and implement advanced, integrated health systems." He is a savvy investor in health care.

His clients included: physician organizations, hospital systems, insurance companies, managed care plans, and vendors in 100 markets in 40 states, plus three foreign countries.

Dr. Sokolov is no stranger to pharmaceutical and medical device industries either. He serves on the Board of Directors for Hospira, Inc., the global specialty pharmaceutical and medication delivery company since Hospira’s spin off from Abbott Labs in May, 2004.

He also serves as a Director of MedCath Corporation. Please see this blog archive ("NEW Presciption for Pharma Marketing).

He is best remembered for presiding over the decline and, final demise of the Coastal Physician Group, Inc., after a protracted proxy battle with Dr. Steven Scott, founder of Coastal Physician Group, and much-publicized law suit (Scott v Sokolov, 1996, NCBC 2, Durham, North Carolina).

In-fighting under Dr. Sokolov’ tenure as Chairman of the Board & Vice-President for Healthcare, resulted in Coastal Physician Groups' stock price sinking from a high of $42 to around $13.

Fortunately for Dr. Sokolov, he was able to walk away from Coastal (which later became PhyAmerica Physician Group, Inc) with a sizable “chunk-of-cash”.

Currently he is Chairman and Senior Partner for SSB Solutions, Inc. His bio on the company’s website states: “….
Over the past 15 years, he has led consulting engagements with top-tier physician organizations, hospital systems, and managed care organizations in virtually every major market in the country…”

Curiously, but not surprisingly, the patient/health consumer is not mentioned. Is it because patient/health consumers do not pay exorbitant consulting fees, speakers’ honorariums or luxury hotel and airline accommodations?

The long of it:

Mr. Inlander is absolutely correct;

Dr. Sokolov, a former cardiologist, works for " physician organizations, hospital systems, and managed care organizations..."

AMGA is absolutely wrong and was caught "red-handed";

Mr. Inlander "has a heart" & works on behalf of Patients-Health Consumers;

Dr. Sokolov does NOT work for patients/health consumers;

AMGA either knew, or should have known the content of Dr. Sokolov's presentation.

Dr. Sokolov could have removed the "patient-centric" slides to stay within the allotted time.

AMGA is in "damage to its real image" control spin;

Mr. Inlander will not be invited back by the AMGA, but he is always welcome on my blog!

The short of it:I am pointing out the obvious to the obviously blind!

Be Well!

Italian Doctor Enforces Patient's Rights.

In a major victory for right-to-die advocates in Roman Catholic Italy, prosecutors on Tuesday cleared a doctor of wrongdoing after he switched off the life support of a terminally ill patient who had asked to die, as reported by the Yahoo News.

Anaesthetist (in US, Anesthesiologist is a MD; Anesthetist is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist-CRNA), Dr. Mario Riccio removed the respirator of muscular dystrophy sufferer Piergiorgio Welby in December to end a life that the paralyzed patient had repeatedly described as torture.

Supporters have called Riccio a hero for ignoring a court ruling that rejected Welby's high-profile request to have his respirator removed. He is a hero for "walking the walk" despite all adversities and for not abandoning his patient in a time of extreme need, and when his patient ran out of other options.

Opponents, including in parliament, said Riccio was a criminal who should go to jail. Real criminals are legislators, judges, prosecutors and other officials that willingly and maliciously denied the patient his right to self-determination.

The Roman Catholic Church went as far as to deny Welby a Catholic funeral and Pope Benedict joined the national debate by saying life was sacred until its "natural sunset."

"Natural sunset" is to be determined by each individual, not by an overpaid and overdressed figurehead such as Pope.

Within the various uses of the word today, "nature" may refer to the general realm of various types of living plants and animals, and in some cases to the processes associated with inanimate objects – the way that particular types of things exist and change of their own accord, such as the weather and geology of the Earth, and the matter and energy of which all these things are composed.

This more traditional concept of natural things which can still be found today implies a distinction between the natural and the artificial, with the latter being understood as that which has been brought into being by a human or human-like consciousness or mind.

By the same token, Pope can argue that cancer, heart disease, pregnancy, stroke, coma, and even hemorrhoids are "natural" conditions and should not be interfered with.

Not shying away from double standards, the previous Pope was kept alive by the miracles of modern artificial (not natural) technology.

Dr. Riccio is correct in his assertion that "...even under the law, it's confirmed: there's been no crime of euthanasia, just a patient who refused treatment..."

Italian prosecutors, after more than two months reviewing the case, said Riccio had done nothing wrong since he was acting in the spirit of Welby's constitutional rights and in strict adherence to Hippocratic Oath--an important procedural step that makes future criminal prosecution highly unlikely -- and could be seen as setting a precedent in other right-to-die cases.
"Doctor Riccio's behavior does not appear to be censurable for not having reinserted the artificial mechanical ventilator when the respiratory crisis occurred," the prosecutors wrote in their request to shelve the investigation".

Still, neither Riccio nor the medical panel and prosecutors described what Riccio had done as euthanasia, which is illegal in Italy and carries a 10 to 15 year jail term.

Only Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and the state of Oregon (and Australia, Northern Territory) permit assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga formally demanded magistrates consider Riccio a murder suspect last.

But Riccio's supporters have noted that Welby, lucid despite his illness, had asked to die and that his treatment held no hope of improving his condition. Prosecutors noted those facts in their request to shelve the case

Riccio, who gave Welby a cocktail of sedatives when removing the respirator, had already been cleared of wrongdoing by a medical panel last month. He said the prosecutors' decision was a major step toward strengthening patients' rights in Italy.

"The only one who can ultimately decide on the therapy is the patient," Riccio said.

Let this case serve as a lesson to all California proponents and supporters of patients right to privacy and unimpeded ability to exercise their rights of self-determination.

California does not have to engage in euthanasia, physician assisted suicide, "physician assisted death" or any other "verbology".

California simply has to reaffirm individual patents" right to refuse any treatment, including the life-sustaining one.

We gripe, you decide.

Be Well & Exercise Your Rights Freely & Frequently!