Why Does Coreg Cost so much?


A company called Teva Pharmaceuticals just got hit with a $235 million penalty for selling a generic version of Coreg which can help with congestive heart failure. Teva sells it for 4 cents a pill while the brand name manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline sells it for $1.50 a pill. And you wonder why medical costs are high in the United States?

If you suffer from congestive heart failure then you are forced to purchase your pills at an enormous premium, just to try and stay alive. The entire legal case is fairly instructive in understanding why drug prices are so high in the United States as compared to most of the rest of the world.

Glaxo has the rights to Coreg but the original patent expired. During its use, Glaxo determined that Coreg is also effective against hypertension. They got a new patent on Coreg for that disease which is still in effect. Teva markets their drug with a label that excludes hypertension to avoid patent infringement. Doctors, however, are well aware the generic Teva version of Coreg works well against hypertension as well as congestive heart failure, and, wanting to save their patients a lot of money, prescribe it.

It’s all fascinating from a legal perspective but it is the actual impact that interests me the most. It’s clear if Teva can make a generic version of Coreg for four cents a pill, that Glaxo could certainly drop the price on their version dramatically. Particularly to be noted; Coreg is already out of its original patent and any profit taking should have already occurred, that’s the whole point of a patent.

Sure, Glaxo figured out Coreg had another purpose but that didn’t cost them anything more in research and development. It’s exactly the same drug they originally patented. They’ve had the legally required amount of time to make a profit off exclusive sales. Yet, they are still gouging patients at a rate of $1.46 per pill because they found a new use for it and can suppress competition.

This is part and parcel why healthcare costs in the United States are an enormous problem. I’m not against patents, I think Glaxo has every right to exclusively offer their product in order to recoup development costs. That time frame has expired.

The major drug companies use the FDA and the United States court system as weapons against anyone trying to produce cheaper version of medication. You pay. This case will cost you and those you love.

This is part of the reason insurance costs are so high, this is why tens of millions of U.S. citizens can’t afford insurance, go without drugs, suffer terribly, and often die. The entire reason we have the Affordable Care Act, which is so polarizing, is because of this weaponization of the FDA and the court systems against capitalism in the form of generic drugs.

If companies were allowed to reasonably create generic drugs then we most likely wouldn’t need the ACA, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Tom Liberman

The Culpability of China and President Trump

Culpability of China

There is an interesting phenomenon going on in regards to the culpability of China and the culpability of President Trump in the spread of Coronavirus or Covid-19. The gist of the situation is that both China and President Trump committed largely the same sin but, from a political perspective, it is expedient to blame one side but not the other. Let me explain.

The first cases of Covid-19 started in China. Doctors and scientists in the region quickly realized this was an easily communicable and relatively deadly version of Coronavirus. This made it far more of a public health threat, particularly with the global nature of travel, than any other disease since perhaps the Spanish Flu.

The Chinese government refused to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and even punished doctors who tried to get the word out. This led to the disease having time to spread to a larger group of people before action was taken. This explains the culpability of China in the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, the quick and easy communication of the disease spread it around the world very quickly. The leaders of certain nations, Japan and South Korea come to mind, immediately accepted the scientific and medical advice they were given and began programs designed to stem the disease in their country.

In the United States, President Trump and many Republicans had the opposite reaction. They decided to make it a political talking point, downplaying the danger and even referring to it as a hoax perpetuated by the other party. They ignored the advice of medical professionals and scientists. This inaction, for several weeks, directly impacted, and continues to effect, how quickly the disease is spreading through the United States.

Now, to the point of my entire blog. It is clear those who rightfully wish to point out the culpability of China choose to completely ignore the fact that President Trump is equally guilty of malfeasance. Of putting his own interests in front of the people he is supposed to leading.

Meanwhile, those who correctly blame President Trump’s inaction for the deaths that are now happening across the United States choose to ignore the culpability of China in the spread of the disease.

I would like to say, hey, idiots, you can’t ignore the stupidity of one party when the person you support did exactly the same thing. That would be naïve of me. People can and are doing just that and not even thinking twice about it, they have a smile on their face while they attack one of the culprits while bending over backward to defend the other. Meanwhile, people are dying.

In my novel, the Gray Horn, I try to illustrate the idea we are often given a false choice. Heads or tails. One party is completely guilty and the other completely innocent. This is a lie. The coin has another side. The culpability of China does not absolve President Trump and vice-versa.

Tom Liberman

Government Responsibility for Fake Coronavirus Cures

Fake Coronavirus Cures

Coronavirus, Covid-19, is big news around the world these days and I like to examine what responsibility government has to protect citizens from the plethora of fake Coronavirus cures that are being promulgated far and wide.

As a Libertarian I don’t think the government has much responsibility in protecting us from ourselves. I oft rail against the War on Drugs as a failed attempt to do so. I’ve likewise spoken out against gambling laws but it is quite clear the internet is filled with fake Coronavirus cures and anyone taking these puts themselves, and others, at risk.

The basic idea for government intervention goes back as far as con-artists have been trying to take advantage of people. Someone recognizes a situation in which people are desperate, perhaps not thinking clearly, and attempts to take financial advantage of them with fraudulent claims. This constitutes a crime, fraud. The snake-oil salesperson sold you something under false pretenses and you are entitled to compensation for damages rendered.

In this case, the potential for damage is quite high as Coronavirus can be lethal. Perhaps you purchase a fake Coronavirus cure and then engage in risky activities because you think you are immune. Soon you or someone you come in contact with gets sick and dies. That’s significant from a legal perspective in awarding damages for fraud. Good. Damages should be awarded. This is the judicial branch of government doing what it should.

However, this situation involves the law enforcement arm of government ordering fake Coronavirus cures removed from sale altogether. In New York, for example, a silver cure offered by a religious figure is no longer legal to sell.

The question for me becomes, if someone believes an absolutely nonsensical claim and wastes money on a fake cure, is it the responsibility of the government to protect that person. You’d think the answer was quite simple. The threat is real, the cure is obviously fake, what is the harm in removing it from the public eye?

Here are my issues. Fake Coronavirus cures aren’t going away because the government bans them. While one particular phony cure will be eliminated from the market, a dozen others, rebranded and marketed will appear.

Can the government stop people from offering prayer as a way to cure or ward off the disease? Trust me, there are religious groups across the country offering this method as a curative. Should preachers who offer it be subject to arrest and imprisonment?

This is where government tries to protect us from ourselves. I have no problem with government agencies speaking loudly and clearly about the efficacy of reported treatments. I have no problem with media entities refusing to run advertisements for these products, I applaud them for doing so.

The reality is the government cannot protect us from phony Coronavirus cures. Only we can do that with critical thinking. When the government attempts to do so, they actually give people the impression there are no more fake cures out there, seeing as they have been restricted. Therefore, when you do see a cure, it must be real, right, because the government hasn’t banned it yet.

The only real solution is to be a responsible adult and make good decisions. Will people make stupid decisions? Certainly. That’s life. Does that mean we all might be infected because someone is an idiot, yep.

Freedom is free, it just isn’t safe.

Tom Liberman

Hidden Immorality of Medical Costs

Hidden Immorality

I just read an interesting article that illustrates the hidden immorality associated with medical costs in this country. In Alabama primarily but other states as well, the sheriff’s office is required to pay for medical expenses of inmates. The cost is so prohibitive the sheriffs simply release the inmates, often dragging the hand of an incoherent prisoner over a release form, before sending her or him off to the hospital.

Do the sheriffs in question know this is an immoral action? Of course they do, but what other choice is there? If an inmate suffers from a serious illness the cost of care could be more than the entire department’s yearly budget. That’s the reality of high medical costs in this country. The problem spreads its vile tentacles into so many aspects of our lives it’s difficult to truly comprehend the horror it creates, not only for patients, for their families, but also for the people who are trying to care for them, including the sheriffs.

I absolutely guarantee you sheriffs don’t want take prisoners who look like they are getting ill, drive them to the edge of town, and dump them on the street. The reality is painful but true. Why is this happening? Because so many poor people don’t have insurance. Why don’t people have insurance? Because medical care can be an enormous expense and insurance companies don’t want people who have illnesses on their plans.

The trickle up effect is that sheriffs, counties, states, and the federal government are stuck with enormous bills they cannot easily pay, just as are patients. The result is that people are not getting treatment because it costs too much and that creates vast suffering, a hidden immorality of high medical expenses.

Do you think a law enforcement officer goes home and tells her or his friends and family about how wonderful it was to help a nearly unconscious inmate scrawl their signature on a release form so the county could save money? I don’t. I think the officers hate themselves for having to do it because the act is unethical on its face. Yet it is happening over and over again. That’s the hidden immorality that our nation is facing.

I’ve written about the underlying problem, an aging and unhealthy population, before so I won’t go into details here. There are certainly no easy solutions but I think it’s important to understand how medical costs create a hidden immorality far beyond the people who get sick.

Tom Liberman

Timothy Morrow and Stop Insulin Advice for Diabetics

Timothy Morrow

A fellow by the name of Timothy Morrow thinks insulin is a toxic agent that doesn’t help diabetics but instead hurts them. He recommends herbal remedies. He also promotes not giving children vaccines. He suggests alternative medical treatments for brain tumors and cancer. One of his clients had a child with diabetes and, on the advice of Morrow, didn’t give the boy insulin or call medical services. The child died. The question becomes if Morrow committed a crime.

This case reminds me in some ways of the Michelle Carter case in which she cajoled a friend to commit suicide. What Morrow did and continues to do is immoral and disgusting. He is dispensing bad medical advice for financial gain. The death of the young man in question is not the first time someone has died because they followed Morrow’s advice. However, is it criminal?

The herbal remedies that Morrow sells are labeled in a way indicating they are not approved for medical treatment and they are not intended to be used as medicine. He certainly advises people not to get vaccines, not to take insulin, not to go to doctors. His mantra is that the medical community is not interested in curing people but simply getting them sick and taking their money. Ironic to be certain as that exactly describes his own practice, but criminal?

It is reasonable to suggest that any person told not to give her or his child insulin for the child’s diabetic condition has plenty of information available to explain the folly of this advice. If the parent chooses to follow the bad advice despite ample and easily accessible proof to the contrary, who is at fault? The person who gave the bad advice or the person who followed it? Both?

Morrow pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse and has to pay for the cost of the funeral and an extra $5,000 in fines. The parents are not being charged with any crime at all.

Should the state met out punishment for people whose beliefs are unsupported by evidence and result in harm to a minor? Should the state seek criminal charges against those who offer medical advice that while perhaps heartfelt, leads to the death of a minor? These are important questions in this era when people forego vaccines and other life-saving medicines for their children because of, to be frank, completely ridiculous beliefs.

If I told you to drive off a cliff to cure your myopia and you did it, am I guilty of a crime? What remedy does the state have for people who do stupid things and people who dispense bad advice?

It’s a difficult question and cases need be evaluated individually but I’m not one to shirk away from a tough answer. In this case I’m sad to say I think the wrong people were charged. Don’t get me wrong, Morrow is vile, but he didn’t commit the crime, the parents did.

As I’ve said many times before, Freedom is free, it’s just not safe.

Tom Liberman

Suboxone Film Case Explains Drug Prices in a Nutshell

Suboxone Film

The United States Supreme Court just ruled that a drug called Suboxone Film, made by a company called Indivior, can no longer exist as a monopoly. Suboxone Film is used to treat opioid addicts and generated over a billion dollars in revenue for Indivior last year. That company has been fighting in the courts to keep generic, cheaper, versions of the drug unavailable. They lost.

I think a quote from spokespeople from Indivior pretty much explains the horrific situation we currently have in the United States when it comes to expensive medication. In arguing before the court, the company’s legal team stated: An entire business, and the jobs and livelihoods that depend on it, will be in peril.

Basically, what they are saying is that if a generic drug that does the same thing but at a far cheaper price were to be introduced it would hurt the company. This is actually quite true. However, it is not the government’s job to protect a company from being run out of business by competition, although that message has largely been lost when it comes to the Food and Drug Administration and our nation as a whole.

The government makes it incredibly difficult to introduce generic drugs in a number of ways and this leads to a lack of competition. The FDA is essentially a tool used by established pharmaceutical companies to make it difficult for competitors to gain a foothold in the market. The loser in all of this is the people of the United States.

Indivior says that if Dr. Reddy’s Laboratory is allowed to introduce their generic substitute for Suboxone Film to the market then they themselves will introduce their own authorized generic. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know then I’m not sure you will ever be convinced. Indivior has been more than able to introduce a cheap generic version of Suboxone Film for who knows how long. They haven’t done so because the United States has prevented competition. They say quite explicitly that if there is actual competition, they will introduce a cheap generic.

In the meantime, the people of the United States have been forced to buy an expensive drug in lieu of the cheaper substitute. This process subverts the glorious benefit of capitalism that Libertarians like myself extoll. If the market is allowed to operate largely in a free fashion then competition benefits everyone. It is when the government gets overly involved that everything gets messed up.

It’s important to understand that the FDA and the United States government as a whole are hurting us all the while claiming it is for our own protection. I’m not completely opposed to running trials for drugs to ensure their safety before allowing them to market, the problem is that the FDA isn’t doing that anymore. They are largely working for established companies and suppressing competition. They do this because they are bribed with fancy conferences, vacations for their families, and other benefits.

It took a lawsuit that made it all the way to the Supreme Court to change this particular instance and that should also tell you something. The case of Suboxone Film simply proves my point.

Tom Liberman

Faith Healers in Idaho and the Law

Faith HealersThere are a number of people in the United States who don’t believe in seeking medical attention because they think such efforts should be left to a divine being. These Faith Healers die quite frequently and so do their children. That’s where we run into a difficult situation involving the Constitution of the United States and the obligation of government to protect children.

If a legally capable adult foregoes medical treatment, there is nothing to be done about it. Faith Healers base their actions on religious beliefs. In the United States the government is not allowed to interfere in such cases. However, children are not legally capable of making their own decisions. If a parent is physically, mentally, or emotionally harming a child; they are generally breaking laws.

In many states, it is possible to intervene in a situation where a child’s life is being endangered by withholding medication, but not in Idaho, where I went to college. Many of the people in western states, including Idaho, strongly believe in individual liberty. I wrote a blog not long ago about how one of the most important lessons I learned while at the University of Idaho was avoiding interfering in another person’s business. It’s not right to tell them how to live. Thus, is not surprising Faith Healers have legal protection in the state.

Any metric based study of modern medicine indicates, without a doubt, medical intervention saves many lives. Many of the children and adults who die in the families of Faith Healers would still be alive today if they were treated.

Where does Idaho have an obligation to step in? Where should we mind our own business? Is it proper to stand by and watch a child die when they most likely could be saved with medical intervention? Is it proper to allow families to treat their children as they see fit?

Much as it pains me to say, I think the state should stay out of these situations. The children have no say into what family they are born into and their fate is avoidable and terrible. The onus for their death falls not on the state, not on me, but on their guardians who chose not to seek medical care. Horrible as it is.

One would hope that children who survive in such a family, who witness their siblings’ avoidable death, would choose to leave such a religion. That eventually no one would believe in Faith Healing and no children would die unnecessary deaths. Sadly, their death is the price of liberty, of freedom. It’s a terrible and painful price. An awful price for children who had no say in the matter. I do not deny this.

It’s not always easy to believe in individual liberty when the people practicing it are incredibly stupid. When this stupidity results in the death of their children.

Tom Liberman

Flu Shots Save Lives but Not All of Them

Flu-ShotThe CDC just released a study on 358 children who died from influenza in the years 2010 through 2014. What I’d like to discuss today is the disconnect between hard metrics of statistics and the reality of personal experience. I think this study gives a good chance to fully examine the issue.

Despite hard statistical evidence in favor of one thing or another, people will reject it. They will eschew them even in a case like this where the lives of their children might be impacted.

Here’s the idea. Basically about half of all children in the United States received the flu vaccine in the time frame of the study. That means in a random world about 179 children who got the vaccine should have died and an equal amount of those who did not should have suffered the same awful fate. The study shows in actuality about 268 children who were not vaccinated died while only 90 who were vaccinated died.

The implication are fairly obvious. The chance of your child dying from influenza is reduced if they get a flu shot.

Here’s the problem. Ninety children who did get the vaccine died. Meanwhile millions who did not get the vaccine did not get sick at all and certainly did not perish. Only a small percentage of children in the United States died from complications of influenza. There are ninety sets of parents out there who will swear that the vaccine is useless because their child died. There are millions of parents whose children did not get the vaccine and are alive today.

Statistically speaking there are about 189 children alive today because they got their flu shot. But there is no way to identify those 189 children. It is difficult to argue against the parents of the children who died after they received the vaccine. It is difficult to argue with the personal experience of millions of parents whose children were not vaccinated and are alive and healthy.

Personal experience often flies in the face of numbers and it’s not easy for anyone to overcome such anecdotal bias.

People tend to believe what they want to believe and in this case I’m certain quite a few people will continue to eschew the vaccine. They will not suffer because of this. Only a tiny percentage of people will suffer the horrible loss of a child.

This is why I think it’s important to teach Critical Thinking from an early age. We all tend to give credence to our experiences over a statistical study. It’s human nature. I understand it. That being said, the lives of 189 children depend on convincing people empirical studies are more important than personal experience.

Do you get your flu shot?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

The Fools Rush to Limit Opioid Prescription Length

john-kasich-opioid-lawsGovernor John Kasich and the legislature of Ohio just joined Governor Chris Christie and New Jersey in limiting the length of prescriptions for Opioids to one week. Of the new law Kasich said, We all need to stick our noses into somebody else’s business.

Before I go on a Libertarian induced rage rant let’s examine why this is happening.

Pharmaceutical companies have been pumping out enormous amounts of opioids like fentanyl and doctors have been prescribing them in equally large numbers. While the authorities have been quite aggressive about jailing opioid dealers who aren’t pharmaceutical companies and doctors they have largely allowed these two groups to garner huge profits. Meanwhile the people being prescribed the drugs eventually run out of their prescriptions and resort to illegal sources for their addictions.

The thought process behind the limit of seven days rather than ninety days is that there will be fewer unused pills to sell to the black market. And because there will be fewer of these legally prescribed pills somehow this will magically reduce the market for them. Somehow no one will come along to fill the void in true supply-side economic fashion.

What will the new law actually accomplish? It will make it horribly inconvenient for people in terrible pain to get the pills they need to make it through the day. This law punishes the critically ill. It must be noted cancer patients and people in hospice are exempt but that leaves a lot of other people in a difficult situation. People who are critically ill don’t really want to go to the doctor once a week for their prescription and then have to pick it up. They are, you see, critically ill and in horrible pain.

So we’re making life a living nightmare for a group of people to reduce opioids on the street. But will there be fewer illegal drugs for people to purchase? Of course not. Where there is a demand there will be supply. Price goes up. People in terrible pain and addicts will have to pay more. And how do they get this money? Generally by stealing from other people.

Addiction is a terrible thing and I’m all for decriminalization and treatment. This law doesn’t help anyone and it hurts lots of people.

Well, that’s not true. It helps politicians like Kasich pretend they are doing something about a terrible problem. Next time you vote, remember they aren’t helping anyone but themselves. That’s the only way to bring about change.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Gray Horn
April 2017 Release: For the Gray

Regulation Quagmire of EpiPen

epipenEpiPen is in the news and many people are angry.

There is, in fact, quite a lot to be angry about. The government encouraged the entire thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not absolving Mylan and CEO Heather Bresch of wrongdoing. They took advantages of a system to steal perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars from both the government and average people. But the system is all but designed to be abused.

EpiPen is a medical device that injects a measured dose of epinephrine. It was brought to market in 1987 after approval from the FDA. Things get quite complicated from there and I’ll try to summarize as best I can. If you want to know the entire sordid story read the Wiki article.

Basically the manufacturer of the device changed hands many times. Each time the new company aggressively sought to protect their patent, buy out competitors, and maximize their profit. The most recent company to acquire EpiPen is named Mylan.

The United States government helped Mylan greatly with draconian patent laws. In addition the FDA makes it extremely difficult and expensive to introduce competitive drugs to the market. Using these two factors to their advantage EpiPen managed to control a monopoly on the drug.

Price Gouging is largely not illegal so EpiPen can charge whatever they want for their product, and they did. However, if getting competitive products to the market was not so difficult, if the government did not tacitly help Mylan maintain their dominance in the market, bargain price manufacturers would certainly have undercut Mylan and restored the market to an equilibrium. In a word, capitalism.

In addition Mylan used a private non-profit called the National Association of State Boards of Education to influence, read bribe, state and local governments to pass laws protecting schools from all liability when using EpiPens. This meant schools across the nation purchased that particular product because it was legally, thanks to state government, less risky. The close ties between Mylan executives and the NASBE, Heather Bresch’s mother is the president having been appointed after large donations from Mylan, is disturbing if not illegal.

Into this mix comes Medicare. Medicare is an enormous government agency designed to make sure elderly people don’t go without medical care. Among their many regulations are different fees for generic and brand-name drugs. Generic drugs pay a significantly smaller rebate. Mylan listed the EpiPen as generic when it was clearly brand-name. This meant they didn’t rebate the government as much for purchases, to the tune of about $100 million. I can only guess agents in charge were bribed to ignore the listing.

How was all of this possible? I’ll tell you. Because the government is overly involved in business. If the government didn’t help Mylan get the monopoly in the first place the price issue wouldn’t exist. If the government didn’t have an insanely complex regulatory system associated with Medicare then taxpayers wouldn’t have paid Myland tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions for EpiPens. If state and local governments didn’t incentivize schools to purchase EpiPens in enormous numbers they wouldn’t have done so.

There aren’t simple answers to these problems. I don’t pretend there are. But I wouldn’t mind if people took note of the complicity of government in the EpiPen mess. In government’s integral role in the fraud. Mylan used the government but the government is designed to be used. It begs unscrupulous business owners to join the party.

Tom Liberman

Schefter Tweets Medical Records of Pierre-Paul

HarrisonSchefterThere were a number of tragic stories about misuse of fireworks over the Independence Day weekend and one of them involved a football player for the New York Giants named Jason Pierre-Paul.

A football analyst named Adam Shefter regularly posts scoops when it comes to the NFL and sports in general. He is the one who first reported that Pierre-Paul had his finger amputated and included an apparent picture of the medical records proving it happened.

Hello Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). At this stage were not sure how Shefter obtained the image but a retired football player by the name of James Harrison had a choice tweet about the incident.

James, I’m in agreement with you, buddy.

I’m not a lawyer but I’m guessing that Shefter is not in violation of HIPAA because he is not an agency that has medical records. Whoever gave him that picture could be in a whole heap of trouble. That being said, I’m am firmly of the opinion that what Shefter did was reprehensible, vile. Shefter works for ESPN and I’d be willing to bet suspensions are coming and those right quick.

The underlying problem, besides Shefter complete lack of moral fiber, is the news hungry world in which we live. The most important thing is to break the story first and get all those clicks. Clicks mean money in a very real way. Shefter is under a huge amount of pressure from his employer to get the story. That’s how he makes a living and that’s how ESPN stays in business. Virtually every media outlet in the world now puts speed and sensationalism ahead of getting it right.

Before we blame the journalists for everything we must accept our own responsibility in the matter. We are the clickers. We created this environment, they are just feeding us.

Not that I’m suggesting a big suspension isn’t in order. I’m just saying this is the nature of the world we have created. If you don’t like it, your only recourse is to practice a little click control. I’m not holding my breath.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Black Sphere
Next Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition – Release date: late August 2015


Jahi McMath – What is Compassionate and Caring?

jahi mcmathI wrote about the Jahi McMath case just a short time ago and, sadly, events are following the lines that I predicted. I’ve talked to a number of people about the case and I read many comments. My plan today isn’t to reiterate my original position, it hasn’t changed, but to examine the nature of who is compassionate and caring in this battle and who is a heartless monster.

A quick recap. McMath went in for a tonsillectomy to relieve sleep apnea and in post-operation began to bleed. The bleeding proved uncontrollable and she died. She was connected to a respirator and continues on in that condition despite that fact that she has been ruled brain-dead by a number of physicians.

The hospital told the family they would be removing life-support about a week after McMath was declared dead. The family fought this and got a stay from a judge. The family has since been searching for a facility that will provide long-term care for the corpse. This is what I suspected would happen.

Now to the point of my blog. When I wrote a post that the hospital should discontinue life-support I got a number of negative replies. The hospital is receiving venomous attacks for the death and for their policy of stopping life-support. In comment sections in general I’ve seen one nasty attack after the next against people who suggest that life-support be halted. The hospital is now refusing to put feeding tubes into the corpse which is complicating the transfer of the corpse to a long-term facility. People don’t much like that either, they think the hospital should pay for everything and do everything.

Whenever I talk about this situation I feel like I have to be clear that I’m not a heartless, uncaring wretch. I always preface my arguments with the comments like “it’s a horrible tragedy but ….”

Well, I’ve had enough. The hospital is the good guy here. I’m the good guy. The people who are suggesting the family acknowledge events and move on are the good guys!

The bad guys are the ones who are encouraging the family to visit a corpse every day for the rest of their lives. The bad guys are the ones who write supportive comments to the family. McMath is dead. If the family cannot accept that they will spend the rest of their lives in a horrible lie. They will spend every dollar they make at the “caring” facility that takes the girl. The facility knows the girl is dead, they just want to steal the family money. That’s evil.

I realize I’m coming across as heartless here but I don’t care. Me, the hospital, and those like us are the ones who offer the family a real future. We’re the ones who actually care. The truth may hurt; but lies cause far more damage.

If someone is close to the McMath family and really, truly cares about them; tell them the truth. Encourage them to move on. Life is for the living.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Against a Cure for Down Syndrome?

Cure Down SyndromeI just read an absolutely fascinating article about health care and Down Syndrome. Scientists are moving ever closer to being able to turn off the effects of the extra third copy of chromosome 21. Eventually they might even be able to prevent the disease altogether.

The new therapy promises to alleviate or eliminate some of the symptoms of the syndrome by switching off the genetic material responsible.

What makes the article fascinating? How do these quotes strike you:

  • If Down syndrome were completely cured, the world would lose something from the absence of that culture.
  • We’re not looking for a cure. We’re looking to help and support people with Down syndrome live healthy and productive lives …
  • But ethicists fear that genetic manipulation could spell the end of the disorder …

In other words, we don’t want a cure.

I understand that relatives of people with the disease are worried that their loved ones will be forever changed by a cure. That the cure might turn off other genetic functions and come with its own peril. Particularly in the early years.

However, the reality is that someone with Down Syndrome is limited in their life’s potential. Their life is radically diminished from what it could be. Maybe they are happy but they cannot experience life fully. With modern therapy and understanding they have things better than throughout history but their intelligence is limited and their lifespan shortened. They often suffer from awful diseases.

I have friends with a Down Syndrome child and I’m eager to hear what they think about the possibility of a cure. My friend is a big, strong, athletic guy and his son will never be that. I know for a fact that they love him just as much their daughter who does not have the disease.

When I read these quotes from parents who do not want a cure, fear a cure, I certainly understand. They love their child the way they are. They fear that their child, if cured, could be forever changed, will have to suffer the trials of a full life.

Ignorance is bliss as they say. But it’s bliss with a price. A heavy price, too heavy a price.

Given a choice between going through life mentally challenged and happy or less happy but with a greater capacity to understand the good and bad that the world offers; which would you choose?

It’s like not playing the game because you might lose.

As for me, I’d rather play than sit on the sidelines. Yes, I might well lose, but the experience of life is worth it. I think everyone should have that chance. Everyone should be given the opportunity to live their life to the fullest. Maybe they will be unhappy and miserable, but maybe not.

I’m for a cure but I don’t have a Down Syndrome child. I do have a mentally challenged niece and if there was a way to cure her I would absolutely be for it.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Science Rocks

Science Week – Modern Medicine

ScienceDay two of my science extravaganza is here and I’m going to talk about modern, western medicine. The reason I think this topic is important is because of how it has affected all our lives. I do not think modern medicine is perfect and some alternative choices have merit but I’m a major proponent of research and modern cures.

I’m going to start it off with a description of a diabetic ward in 1912 Canada. Dr. Frederick Banting, his student Charles Best, and biochemist James Collip used newly purified insulin for the first time. If you can read this and complain about modern medicine … well … I have no words for you.

Children dying from diabetic ketoacidosis were kept in large wards, often with 50 or more patients in a ward, mostly comatose. Grieving family members were often in attendance, awaiting the (until then, inevitable) death.

In one of medicine’s more dramatic moments, Banting, Best, and Collip went from bed to bed, injecting an entire ward with the new purified extract. Before they had reached the last dying child, the first few were awakening from their coma, to the joyous exclamations of their families.

Now I’ll go onto some statistics.

  • In the 18th century Smallpox killed an estimated 400,000 people a year. Today it is eradicated. Thank you, Vaccine Act of 1813 and Louis Pasteur.
  • Maternal death rate was historically around 1%. In modern, western countries it is now around .024%. That’s about 976 more mothers alive per 100,000 births. Thank you, Ignaz Semmelweis and Lawson Tait.
  • In 1952 58,000 cases of polio were reported in the United States resulting in 3,000 deaths and 21,000 cases of mild to disabling paralysis. In 1994 the Americas were declared Polio free. Thank you, World Health Organization, UNICEF, and The Rotary Foundation.
  • Whooping Cough effects 48 million people worldwide and kills 295,00 people a year. In the 1940 it was reduced to 1 case in 100,000 in the U.S but declining vaccination has produced an increase in cases. Whooping Cough vaccine doesn’t last a lifetime and must be retaken. Recent negative publicity has caused a drop of vaccination rates. Whooping Cough is highly contagious. If a child at your daycare gets it because they aren’t vaccinated you are at risk.
  • Dental disease was a common killer prior to modern dentistry. It’s not easy to find exact statistics because dental disease often led to death in other ways. Diseases of the teeth quickly spread to the heart. With modern dentistry many lives are saved. Thank you, Pierre Fauchard.
  • My sister is cancer free thanks to Trastuzumab, thank you Axel Ullrich and H. Michael Shepard.

As I said at the beginning of the article I’m not completely against non-western medicine where it is shown to be effective. There is some evidence that Acupuncture, Chiropractic, and Massage Therapy can be effective. However, there are tremendous dangers to alternate medicine. Because it’s efficacy is largely unproven it leads to practitioners who are unregulated and prey on ill people desperate for a cure. It is particularly dangerous when used as a substitute, rather than a complement, to regular care.

I don’t really want to get into that debate. What I will say is that the odds are strong that you know someone who is alive and well because of modern, western medicine.

So thank you to all the researchers, assistants, technicians and the rest who are out there who are trying to find cures. Keep up this important work!

Comment, Like, Tweet, Stumble, Digg, or otherwise share if you want to say thank you as well!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

Teaser – Science Week – Modern Medicine

ScienceTomorrow’s Science Week topic is a subject that means a great deal to me. Modern, western medicine. In this day and age there seems to be an ever growing segment of the population turning to alternative medicines and at the same time not acknowledging the astounding contributions doctors and scientific researchers have made to our lives.

When I was a young man my neighbor’s mother died from cancer. Recently my sister survived what was a significantly more serious case. I’m going to tell you about diabetes, and smallpox, and polio and when I finish I hope you will appreciate doctors and researchers as much as I do.

Stay tuned!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist