Sunday, September 27, 2009

Something else the Courier won't touch

From The Arizona Guardian (sub req) comes a story not reported elsewhere. I wonder why?

Goddard announces $900,000 settlement over inflated drug prices

(Phoenix, Ariz. -- Sept. 23, 2009) Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced a $900,000 settlement with Bristol-Meyers Squibb (BMS) over allegations that the pharmaceutical company set fraudulently inflated prices for certain drugs purchased by consumers, insurers and other payers.

Goddard filed a lawsuit in 2005 against 42 pharmaceutical companies, alleging that they engaged in deceptive trade practices by manipulating the Average Wholesale Price (AWP) of their prescription drugs, causing buyers to overpay.

This state's settlement is the third since the lawsuit was filed, bringing in a total of $1.97 million. Last June, the state reached a $930,000 settlement with 11 drug companies. In 1996, GlaxoSmithKline settled with the state for $140,000. The money goes into the office's Consumer Fraud Revolving Fund, which supports consumer fraud investigations, consumer education and litigation.

"These drug companies have broken the law and been grossly unfair to consumers," Goddard said. "Many of the people ripped off by these artificially high prices are seniors citizens living on fixed incomes and having to choose between expensive medicine or food and housing."

Drug reimbursement rates are based on pricing data supplied by drug manufacturers. The lawsuit alleged that the drug makers manipulated the prices, resulting in inflated costs to consumers taking chemotherapy and other drugs for serious illnesses. According to Congressional research, Americans pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.

The lawsuit also alleged that drug manufacturers provided financial incentives to physicians and suppliers to stimulate drug sales, such as volume discounts, rebates, off-invoice pricing and free goods, at the expense of Medicaid and Medicare programs.

Editorial: Jobless benefits have two edges

So I'm having a nice relaxed weekend (four gigs in three days plus home improvement work), and the Courier interrupts my endless leisure with with a brain-bending exercise in antilogic.

It fascinates me how ideologues can mentally remake the world to fit their ideas about it. Today the unnamed Courier editor asserts that extending unemployment benefits hurts businesses by adding costs, which could cause them to reduce employment further. This might be a concern, except that extending benefits does not change costs to business by a penny. The government offers extended access to the pool of money that businesses supply, reducing the pool, but the businesses pay at a constant rate. (With employment down by around ten percent, businesses are currently paying that much less in unemployment insurance, in point of fact.)

Businesses that have laid off personnel pay longer to assist those employees, true. But those are clearly not the businesses that might want to hire. They have reduced costs by reducing personnel, and the unemployment is a chip off that reduction. They're still ahead, cost-wise.

This is a laughable and truly desperate reach to find a way of blaming unemployment support for reducing employment. The editor is still fighting the advances in labor conditions of the 1930s.