Yes, The Drug Companies Do Not Always Act In The Best Interest Of The Consumer

On Wednesday Reuters reported that Michael Babich, former chief executive of Insys Therapeutics Inc (INSY.O), pleaded guilty on Wednesday to participating in a nationwide scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe an addictive opioid medication and has agreed to become a government witness.

The article reports:

Prosecutors allege that from 2012 to 2015, Kapoor, Babich and others conspired to pay doctors bribes in exchange for prescribing Subsys, an under-the-tongue fentanyl spray for managing severe pain in cancer patients.

Fentanyl is an opioid 100 times stronger than morphine.

Prosecutors said Insys paid doctors kickbacks in the form of fees to participate in speaker programs ostensibly meant to educate medical professionals about Subsys that were actually sham events.

Prior to working at Insys, Babich had worked at Kapoor’s venture capital firm.

Insys in August said it had agreed to pay at least $150 million as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. The company has said it has taken steps to ensure it operates legally going forward.

On November 29, 2018, The New York Times reported:

A class of synthetic drugs has replaced heroin in many major American drug markets, ushering in a more deadly phase of the opioid epidemic.

New numbers Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017, a record. Overdose deaths are higher than deaths from H.I.V., car crashes or gun violence at their peaks. The data also show that the increased deaths correspond strongly with the use of synthetic opioids known as fentanyls.

Since 2013, the number of overdose deaths associated with fentanyls and similar drugs has grown to more than 28,000, from 3,000. Deaths involving fentanyls increased more than 45 percent in 2017 alone.

The article includes a number of graphs showing the increase in drug overdoses in recent years and the role that fentanyl  has played in that increase.

This is only one aspect of the opioid epidemic, but at least some action has been taken on this aspect.

 

Progress Made

The Washington Examiner reported today the the Justice Department has target for arrest at least 48 people who were involved in a “multi-state heroin and fentanyl network.”

The article reports:

The takedown was in Huntington, W.V. — a city U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart called the “epicenter of the opioid crisis.”

“Huntington has become ground zero,” he told reporters earlier Tuesday. “The highest per capita overdose death rate for opioids is in Southern District of West Virginia.”

 The arrests were ongoing Tuesday, he said, and wouldn’t necessarily end Tuesday either.

The take down targeted the Peterson Drug Trafficking Organization, and charged at least 15 individuals with conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl in the Southern District of West Virginia,

Another 15 were indicted in county court Monday, and additional members are expected to be charged in Detroit.

”At least 48 individuals are targeted for arrest on various narcotics, violent crime and firearms related charges at the federal or state level as determined by the circumstances of each matter,” the Justice Department said.

The drug trafficking organization has been operating in Huntington for nearly 15 years, trafficking heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine from Detroit to Huntington, the Justice Department said.

The operation took at least 450 grams of fentanyl off of the streets — enough to kill more than 250,000 people.

We have a major drug problem in America. According to the chart I found at statista, in America the highest number of deaths from drug overdoses occur to Americans between the ages of 25 and 55.

This is the chart:

Number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. from 2014 to 2016, by age

It is interesting to me that the age range that generally has the greatest amount of disposable income is the age range that is most likely to die from a drug overdose. It is very sad that many people get involved with drugs during the most productive years of their lives.

Hopefully the taking down of the drug network in West Virginia will be the beginning of dealing with one aspect of America’s drug problem.

Too Close To Home

We lost a family member this week due to drug addiction. She wasn’t particularly young, but she was too young to die. Opioid addiction is becoming a major problem in America, and it is time to take a good look at how to address the present problem and take action to prevent future problems. Former Secretary of Education Bill Bennet recently made some comments on the subject. His comments were posted today at The Daily Signal.

Here are a few of his comments:

For example, nearly 70 percent of our nation’s opioid deaths do not come via prescription abuse. In 2015, there were 33,091 opioid overdose deaths. Heroin deaths constituted 12,990 of those deaths. Synthetic opioids (mostly illegal fentanyl) constituted another 9,580 deaths.

The main problem today, and the growth for tomorrow, is illegal opioids such as heroin, illegal fentanyl, and a hundred other synthetics, not legal drugs used illegally or in ways not as prescribed.

If we are going to tackle the opioid issue head-on, we must take illegal drugs head-on, with strategies aimed at better border enforcement, better monitoring of international mail services, and a crackdown on cartel activity, both here in America and in source countries.

Second, most of the talk and money spent on our current crisis is on treatment, recovery, and urgent overdose reversal. All are important. But simply improving access to treatment is not enough. We need to improve engagement in treatment, reduce dropout, and address the far too common outcome of relapse with sustained recovery—meaning no use of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs.

One of the most successful drug treatment programs in America is Teen Challenge. They have a program for both men and women that is Christ-centered.

Wikipedia reports the following about Teen Challenge:

Aaron Bicknese tracked down 59 former Teen Challenge students in 1995, in order to compare them with a similar group of addicts who had spent one or two months in a hospital rehabilitation program. His results, part of his PhD dissertation, were published in “The Teen Challenge Drug Treatment Program in Comparative Perspective” [13]

Bicknese found that Teen Challenge graduates reported returning to drug use less often than the hospital program graduates. His results also showed that Teen Challenge graduates were far more likely to be employed, with 18 of the 59 working at Teen Challenge itself, which relies in part on former clients to run the program.

Much of these results were to Teen Challenge’s benefit, and the high success rates (up to 86%) he found have been quoted in numerous Teen Challenge and Christian Counseling websites.

There are other successful programs, but this is the one I am familiar with and the one that I trust.

Secretary Bennett talks about prevention:

But the main unaddressed nature of the opioid crisis is focus and energy on prevention.

Unlike many other chronic diseases, addiction is entirely preventable. Too few are talking about or spending time on stopping the problem before it starts. We must save every life we can, but to focus exclusively on treatment and recovery at the expense of prevention is like building prosthetic limb stores on shark-infested beachfronts. We need to warn people not to swim in those waters and we need to kill the predatory sharks.

We need look only to the recent past as a guide for today. We had major drug problems in this country in the late 1970s and 1980s. The nation rolled up its sleeves, went to work, talked about it, taught about it, and reversed it—and by 1992 we had cut drug use in half, and even more in some age groups.

But it took a national, kitchen sink strategy: Hollywood got involved, professional athletics got involved, and even presidents talked about it and gave speeches on it. Law enforcement was key, but so was direct messaging to the public at large.

That means getting serious about the goal for youth of no use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or other drugs. That is where 90 percent of addiction starts. This clear prevention message needs to come from parents, educators, political leaders, the entertainment industry, and health care professionals—just as in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

We are losing too many good people to addiction. It is time to stand together as a nation and make drug use culturally unacceptable. That message hit home this past week.

I Don’t Understand How This Is Legal

The Common Core Diva posted an article today about the money being spent on the data mining of our students under Common Core. The article includes the following:

commoncoreushouse-appropriationsI guess I just don’t understand how this works–how is it legal to use Medicaid funds for education.

The article explains what is going on:

If you’re not sure how the Library and Museum Grants are going to be used against us and help shift our community culture to an aligned ‘one for all’ compliant group:
https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/hitting-the-books-part-2/

Related and  a bit dated (2015), I exposed how Medicaid would be used to help align our students via loans, education, and all kinds of other federal overreach (for example: American Apprenticeships). At the crux? Sen. Lamar Alexander! See:
https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/weekend-news-tracking-the-ccsscteworkforce-aligned-society/

So, what else is this Report hiding? Below is a short list of hidden federal overreaches in education.
a) Continued use of taxpayer money  without our consent. Congress covered its backside with this excerpt: “Within the funds provided, the Committee has focused increases on priority areas and reduced funding for programs that are no longer authorized, are of limited scope or effectiveness, or do not have a clear Federal role.”

b) Topping the priorities: biomedical research. Biggest ‘winner’? NIH (National Institutes of Health) I first wrote about the educational overreach via the NIH back in 2014. It has not only continued since then, but has increased its overreach, thanks to Congress. What is becoming more obvious is that the Affordable Health Care is being embedded in not only education, but every aspect of our lives.
See: https://commoncorediva.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/sic-em-saturday-more-fed-budget-watch/

c) The Brain Initiative is among the top priorities. It’s yet another White House led plan of overreach. Learn more: https://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
Knowing how ESSA and its mandates include using students, teachers, and families as research subjects, this is a very big area of concern!

d) CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) also get boosts of taxpayer money. Thanks to ESSA and its abuse of Title One funding in addition to the RTIs (Responses to Intervention) and Behavior Intervention and Management, as well as the data mining/tracking, our schools are absolutely in harm’s way of more federal overreach in education. How? ESSA plainly states that anything and everything..as long as its in the name of ‘student success’ is permissible; thereby open to being funded..with OUR money!

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. The government overreach into our children’s minds is frightening. Parents need to wake up and see what is happening to our schools. Our children are not being educated–they are being indoctrinated and physiologically manipulated into becoming compliant citizens. Please carefully check your candidates to see where they stand on Common Core and the government takeover of education.

What The Gridlock In Congress Is Really About

Unions and corporations make donations to Congressional candidates. Some groups that take money from the government also lobby Congress and make campaign contributions. That’s not really the way it should be, but that is the way it is. One of the largest contributors to Democratic campaign coffers is Planned Parenthood. They generally get their money’s worth. This has become very obvious in the debate over funding the battle against the Zika virus.

Yesterday Life News posted an article about the battle over Zika virus funding.

The article reports:

Pro-abortion Democrats are still holding up aid funding for the Zika virus with demands that more taxpayer dollars go to the abortion giant Planned Parenthood.

Democrats both in the U.S. House and Senate have been blocking aid bills to combat the virus for months because it doesn’t include funding for a few Planned Parenthood facilities in Puerto Rico.

On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said they would continue to block the aid funding unless the abortion chain gets more funding. The pro-abortion Democrat said she is willing to compromise with Republicans on other issues but not on the Planned Parenthood funding, The Hill reports.

Abortion has become a major issue related to the Zika virus because of a possible link to birth defects. New research suggests the virus may not be to blame for the uptick in birth defects in some areas affected by the virus. Still, abortion advocates have been using the virus as an excuse to push for more abortions on babies with disabilities. Some pro-abortion groups even have been scaring women into aborting their unborn babies without knowing if they have Zika or if their unborn baby has a disability.

Senate Democrats blocked the latest version of the aid bill on Tuesday because it prohibited funding from going to the abortion giant. Pro-abortion legislators claim that the abortion giant is essential in the fight against the Zika virus because it provides contraception and other health services to women.

Planned Parenthood’s main mission is not to provide health services to women–it may do that, but it is not how the organization makes its money.

In September 2015, the Heritage Foundation reported:

Although Planned Parenthood Federation of America reportedly requires all affiliates to have at least one clinic that performs abortions,[4] Planned Parenthood’s annual report does not identify the number of affiliated clinics that provide abortion services or how much of Planned Parenthood’s total revenue results from abortions. Instead, the report claims that abortions account for only 3 percent of the medical services Planned Parenthood affiliates provide.[5]

How does the Planned Parenthood annual report arrive at the 3 percent figure? The calculation counts each “discrete clinical interaction” as a separate “medical service,” meaning simple tests or routine provision of birth control are given the same weight as surgical or chemical abortions.[6] For example, if a woman in the course of a year receives a free condom, a pregnancy test, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) test, and an abortion, Planned Parenthood would say abortion was only 25 percent of the services provided.

Even with Planned Parenthood’s broad definition of “medical service,” data reported in the organization’s annual report suggest that roughly 12 percent of people who received a service from Planned Parenthood affiliates received an abortion during the reporting year.[7]

Despite a nearly 20 percent decline in the number of abortions in the country between 2000 and 2011,[8] the number of abortions Planned Parenthood performed during that time increased from 197,070 to 333,964, thereby more than doubling its share of the abortion market from 15 percent in 2000 to 32 percent in 2011,[9] the latest year for which national data are available.

Planned Parenthood affiliates perform about 20 abortions for every prenatal care visit and about 200 abortions for every adoption referral based on the approximately 300,000 abortions they perform each year.[10]

Follow the link above to the Heritage Foundation article to review the references.

This is another ‘follow the money’ story about Washington, D.C. As a voter, you are responsible for putting the current Congress in office. If you don’t like what they are doing, get involved and vote them out.

The Zika virus may not get the funding to stop it because the Democrats want to reward one of their major campaign donors. If that bothers you, it’s time to get involved.

 

Some Things To Consider When Helping Refugees Flee To America

Yesterday a website called Truth Revolt posted an article about one of the unintended consequences of opening the doors of America wide to refugees from countries where healthcare and disease are not properly handled. Among other things, the information you are about to read is a glaring example of the fact that some civilizations are more protective and caring toward their average citizens than others.

The article reports:

Some bad news for revelers has hit just in time for their celebrations of World Refugee Day: Thanks to resettlement efforts and an overtaxed health care system, diseases that were near extinction in the United States are now experiencing a resurgence.

According to Breitbart, they are: 

  1. Tuberculosis
  2. Measles
  3. Whooping Cough
  4. Mumps
  5. Scarlet Fever
  6. Bubonic Plague

The article gives the actual details of the problem:

Tuberculosis — After 23 years of steady decline, TB has increased by nearly 2%, reaching over 9,000 cases.

Measles — Though declared eliminated in 2000, there were 667 cases reported from 27 states in 2014. Twenty-four states reported 189 people in 2015. The Center for Disease Control states most people with measles are unvaccinated, which is the status of most arriving refugees. The latest outbreak was epicentered at a mosque in Memphis.

Whooping Cough — In 1976, there were only 1,010 cases reported but now has increased more than 30 times that to nearly 33,000 cases in 2014 — the same time frame as a quadrupling of foreign-born residents coming to the U.S.

Mumps — A vaccine introduced in 1967 caused outbreaks to drop by 99%. Reports of new cases are now cropping up again, especially in close-knit communities.

Scarlet Fever — Attacks mostly the young, between 5 and 15, and the UK has had 12,000 cases over the past year. Millions of refugees have entered Europe, bringing with them this nearly-forgotten disease.

Bubonic Plague — This disease persists in parts of Africa, Asia, and South America, according to the Breitbart report. 16 cases of plague with four deaths have been reported inside our borders in the past year.

In the days of Ellis Island, immigrants were examined before they were allowed to immigrate to America. If they were not healthy, they were sent home. This is impossible with the illegal aliens coming across our southern border, but it is possible with refugees. If the government refuses to protect Americans (one of its primary jobs), it is time to elect a new government. We are at risk or a major epidemic of a disease we have previously wiped out and Americans are not vaccinated against or have immunity to. It is time to screen refugees for health issues as well as for terrorism issues. If we are not able to do both, we should not take them in.

Congressional Testimony We All Need To Hear

On May 11, Life News reported on the Dr. Anthony Levatino’s testimony before the Congressional Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. Dr. Anthony Levatino is a pro-life physician from New Mexico but, before having a change of heart on the issue of abortion he was an OBGYN who also performed abortions. According to the article Levatino has performed as many as 1,200 abortions — some of them after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

This is his testimony:

Chairman Franks and distinguished members of the subcommittee, my name is Anthony Levatino. I am a board-certified obstetrician gynecologist. I received my medical degree from Albany Medical College in Albany, NY in 1976 and completed my OB-GYN residency training at Albany Medical Center in 1980.

In my 33-year career, I have been privileged to practice obstetrics and gynecology in both private and university settings. From June 1993 until September 2000, I was associate professor of OB-GYN at the Albany Medical College serving at different times as both medical student director and residency program director. I have also dedicated many years to private practice and currently operate a solo gynecology practice in Las Cruces, NM. I appreciate your kind invitation to address issues related to the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

During my residency training and during my first five years of private practice, I performed both first and second trimester abortions. Duringmy residency in the late 1970s,second trimester abortions were typically performed using saline infusion or, occasionally, prostaglandin instillation techniques. These procedures were difficult, expensive and necessitated that patients go through labor to abort their pre-born children. By 1980, at the time I entered private practice first in Florida and then in upstate New York, those of us in the abortion industry were looking for a more efficient method of second trimester abortion.

The Suction D&E procedure offered clear advantages over older installation methods. The procedure was much quicker and never ran the risk of a live birth. Understand that my partner and I were not running an abortion clinic. We practiced general obstetrics and gynecology but abortion was definitely part of that practice. Relatively few gynecologists in upstate NY would perform such a procedure and we saw an opportunity to expand our abortion practice.

I performed first trimester suction D&C abortions in my office up to 10 weeks from last menstrual period and later procedures in an outpatient hospital setting. From 1981 through February 1985, I performed approximately 1200 abortions. Over 100 of them were second trimester Suction D&E procedures up to 24 weeks gestation.

Imagine if you can that you are a pro-choice obstetrician/gynecologist like I once was. Your patient today is 24 weeks pregnant. At twenty-four weeks from last menstrual period, her uterus is two finger-breadths above the umbilicus.

If you could see her baby, which is quite easy on an ultrasound, she would be as long as your hand plus a half from the top of her head to the bottom of her rump not counting the legs. Your patient has been feeling her baby kick for the last 2 months or more but now she is asleep on an operating room table and you are there to help her with her problem pregnancy.

The first task is remove the laminaria that had earlier been placed in the cervix to dilate it sufficiently to allow the procedure you are about to perform. With that accomplished, direct your attention to the surgical instruments arranged on a small table to your right. The first instrument you reach for is a 14-French suction catheter. It is clear plastic and about nine inches long. It has a bore through the center approximately ¾ of an inch in diameter. Picture yourself introducing this catheter through the cervix and instructing the circulating nurse to turn on the suction machine which is connected through clear plastic tubing to the catheter. What you will see is a pale yellow fluid that looks a lot like urine coming through the catheter into a glass bottle on the suction machine. This is the amniotic fluid that surrounded the baby to protect her.

With suction complete, look for your Sopher clamp. This instrument is about thirteen inches long and made of stainless steel. At the end are located jaws about 2 ½ inches long and about ¾ of an inch wide with rows of sharp ridges or teeth. This instrument is for grasping and crushing tissue. When it gets hold of something, it does not let go. A second trimester D&E abortion is a blind procedure. The baby can be in any orientation or position inside the uterus. Picture yourself reaching in with the Sopher clamp and grasping anything you can.

At twenty-four weeks gestation, the uterus is thin and soft so be careful not to perforate or puncture the walls. Once you have grasped something inside, squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard–really hard. You feel something let go and out pops  a fully formed leg about six inches long. Reach in again and grasp whatever you can. Set the jaw and pull really hard once again and out pops an arm about the same length. Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs.

The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby’s head. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. You can be pretty sure you have hold of it if the Sopher clamp is spread about as far as your fingers will allow. You will know you have it right when you crush d own on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. You can then extract the skull pieces. Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you.

Congratulations! You have just successfully performed a second trimester Suction D&E abortion. You just affirmed her right to choose.

If you refuse to believe that this procedure inflicts severe pain on that unborn child, please think again.

Before I close, I want to make a comment on the necessity and usefulness of utilizing second and third trimester abortion to save women’s lives. I often hear the argument that we must keep abortion legal in order to save women’s lives in cases of life threatening conditions that can and do arise in pregnancy.

Albany Medical Center where I worked for over seven years is a tertiary referral center that accepts patients with life threatening conditions related to or caused by pregnancy. I personally treated hundreds of women with such conditions in my tenure there. There are several conditions that can arise or worsen typically during the late second or third trimester of pregnancy that require immediate care. In many of those cases, ending or “terminating” the pregnancy, if you prefer, can be life saving. But is abortion a viable treatment option in this setting? I maintain that it usually, if not always, is not.

Before a Suction D&E procedure can be performed, the cervix must first be sufficiently dilated. In my practice, this was accomplished with serial placement of laminaria. Laminaria is a type of sterilized seaweed that absorbs water over several hours and swells to several times its original diameter. Multiple placements of several laminaria at a time are absolutely required prior to attempting a suction D&E.

In the mid second trimester, this requires approximately 36 hours to accomplish. When utilizing the D&X abortion procedure, popularly known as Partial-Birth Abortion, this process requires three days as explained by Dr. Martin Haskell in his 1992 paper that first described this type of abortion.

In cases where a mother’s life is seriously threatened by her pregnancy, a doctor more often than not doesn’t have 36 hours, much less 72 hours, to resolve the problem. Let me illustrate with a real -life case that I managed while at the Albany Medical Center. A patient arrived one night at 28 weeks gestation with severe pre-eclampsia or toxemia.

Her blood pressure on admission was 220/160. As you are probably aware, a normal blood pressure is approximately 120/80. This patient’s pregnancy was a threat to her life and the life of her unborn child. She could very well be minutes or hours away from a major stroke. This case was managed successfully by rapidly stabilizing the patient’s blood pressure and “terminating” her pregnancy by Cesarean section. She and her baby did well. This is a typical case in the world of high-risk obstetrics. In most such cases, any attempt to perform an abortion “to save the mother’s life” would entail undue and dangerous delay in providing appropriate, truly life-saving care.

During my time at Albany Medical Center I managed hundreds of such cases by “terminating”pregnancies to save mother’s lives. In all those hundreds of cases, the number of unborn children that I had to deliberately kill was zero.

Abortion is a lucrative industry dedicated to killing babies. There are situations where abortions are medically necessary, but they are few and far between. What abortion has become is a vehicle for killing minority babies. Notice that the majority of abortion clinics are in poor minority neighborhoods. Notice that despite the fact that only thirteen percent of American women are minorities, almost one-third of the abortions performed are to minority women. If you support abortion, keep in mind that when a woman enters an abortion clinic, she is carrying a baby–a life. When she leaves the clinic, that baby is dead.

 

An Alternative To ADHD Medication

In September, The Atlantic Magazine posted an article about dealing with children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As someone who married into a family with about five generations that we are pretty sure of with ADHD or ADD, I was very interested in the article. I have learned from my personal experience that ADD or ADHD is different in girls than boys, and I have also learned that in some cases, ADD or ADHD can be dealt with without the use of prescription drugs. My husband controls his ADD with coffee. A few cups in the morning will slow him down enough so that he can concentrate. One of my daughters controls her ADD and her son’s ADHD with physical activity. The article in The Atlantic reinforces the idea that physical activity can be used to control ADHD. Before I quote the article, I would like to mention that ADD and ADHD exploded as a problem about the time recess was taken out of the lower grades in many of our public schools. We need to rethink that.

The article in The Atlantic reports:

Last year a very similar study in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that just 26 minutes of daily physical activity for eight weeks significantly allayed ADHD symptoms in grade-school kids. The modest conclusion of the study was that “physical activity shows promise for addressing ADHD symptoms in young children.” The researchers went on to write that this finding should be “carefully explored with further studies.”

 “If physical activity is established as an effective intervention for ADHD,” they continued, “it will also be important to address possible complementary effects of physical activity and existing treatment strategies …” Which is a kind of phenomenal degree of reservation compared to the haste with which millions of kids have been introduced to amphetamines and other stimulants to address said ADHD. The number of prescriptions increased from 34.8 to 48.4 million between 2007 and 2011 alone. The pharmaceutical market around the disorder has grown to several billion dollars in recent years while school exercise initiatives have enjoyed no such spoils of entrepreneurialism. But, you know, once there is more research, it may potentially be advisable to consider possibly implementing more exercise opportunities for kids.

Rather than create a generation of children hooked on drugs that treat ADHD, let’s bring back recess. It may not solve all of the problems, but I’ll bet that some children could stop their drugs and others could go on lower doses of drugs if we brought back recess.

Facing A Real Problem In New York City

Recent mayors of New York City have been concerned with such things as decreasing the size of soft drinks, taking salt shakers off the table at restaurants, and taking the carriage rides out of Central Park. Generally they have been involved in trivial pursuit instead of dealing with some of the major problems the city has. Well, now they have a genuine problem to deal with.

The New York Times reported yesterday that Craig Spencer, a doctor in New York City who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders.

The article reports:

While officials have said they expected isolated cases of the disease to arrive in New York eventually, and had been preparing for this moment for months, the first case highlighted the challenges involved in containing the virus, especially in a crowded metropolis. Dr. Spencer, 33, had traveled on the A and L subway lines Wednesday night, visited a bowling alley in Williamsburg, and then took a taxi back to Manhattan.

If the Center for Disease Control is correct and the Ebola virus cannot be contracted from anyone until they start having symptoms, the virus may be contained at this point. Hopefully that is the case.

I hope that the mayor and public officials of New York City will give this situation the attention it deserves. It is frightening to think of the consequences of an Ebola epidemic in New York City.

Why People Don’t Trust The Government

Right now most Americans are very concerned about the risk of the Ebola virus in America. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not seem to have a consistent message regarding how to prevent the virus from spreading, and meanwhile although caution is being recommended, there have been some mistakes in dealing with the virus that are simply the result of a lack of caution.

The Daily Caller posted an article today that stated:

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the federal government’s Models of Infectious Disease Agency co-funded a September 2 analysis on the threat of Ebola’s spread to countries including the United States, Israel’s Arutz Sheva reported. The analysis was circulated among federal government officials prior to its September 2 publication date.

The analysis found a nearly 25 percent “probability of Ebola virus disease case importation” to the United States within 3 to 6 weeks.

On September 16th, the President stated that according to ‘experts across our government’ the risk of Ebola in America was very low. Either President Obama was unaware of the report, or he was lying. Either way, there is a problem. Hopefully, the Ebola virus in America will be contained, but even if it is, the lives of three people and their families have been impacted in a very negative way because America had been lulled into a false sense of security. Common sense says we should make an effort to stop people from coming into America from places where the virus is active, but so far the President has not been willing to do that. We need to apply some common sense to this problem. For some reason that is not currently  happening.

This Really Should Not Be A Campaign Issue

Yesterday The Hill posted an article about Democrat campaign ads claiming that the Republicans cut funds to the Center for Disease Control and that is the reason we are not successfully fighting Ebola.

The article reports:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) launched an ad campaign on Monday blaming Republicans for cutting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC)  budget to fight diseases like Ebola.

“Republicans voted to cut CDC’s budget to fight Ebola,” the paid online ads state, citing a 2011 budget vote that included cuts to the agency’s spending. At the same time, the ads point to the most recent House GOP budget resolution and argue that “Republicans protect tax breaks for special interests.”

That is a rather serious charge. Thankfully, it is not true.

On Sunday, Politico posted an article by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal that explained that the CDC budget has not been cut–the problem is how the money going to the CDC has been spent.

The article at Politico explains:

Unfortunately, however, many of those funds have been diverted away from programs that can fight infectious diseases, and toward programs far afield from the CDC’s original purpose.

Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent—$180 million—of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Especially given the agency’s postwar roots as the Communicable Disease Center, one would think that “detecting and responding to infectious diseases and other public health threats” warrants a larger funding commitment.

Instead, the Obama administration has focused the CDC on other priorities. While protecting Americans from infectious diseases received only $180 million from the Prevention Fund, the community transformation grant program received nearly three times as much money—$517.3 million over the same five-year period.

So where is the money going? The community transformation program pays for such things as “increasing access to healthy foods by supporting local farmers and developing neighborhood grocery stores,” or “promoting improvements in sidewalks and street lighting to make it safe and easy for people to walk and ride bikes.” So the problem is not how much money the CDC received–it has to do with how the money was spent. There is nothing wrong with helping communities, but it is not wise to do it at the expense of doing research on infectious diseases–the actual mission of the CDC.

Governor Jindal reminds us what the duties of our government are:

Our Constitution states that the federal government “shall protect each of [the States] against Invasion”—a statement that should apply as much to infectious disease as to foreign powers. So when that same government prioritizes funding for jungle gyms and bike paths over steps to protect our nation from possible pandemics, citizens have every right to question the decisions that got us to this point.

We need to get back to following the U. S. Constitution–it works very well when it is followed.

 

American Society Is Moving In The Wrong Direction

CNS News is reporting today that the U. S. fertility rate has hit a record low.

The article reports:

The fertility rate is the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15-44. In 2012–according to the Dec. 30, 2013 CDC report “Births: Final Data for 2012″–the U.S. fertility rate was 63.0. That was down from 63.2 in 2011, the previous all-time low.

“The 2012 general fertility rate (GFR) for the U.S. was 63.0 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44, down slightly (less than 1%) from the record low rate reported for the nation in 2011 (63.2),” said the CDC report.

The U.S. fertility rate has dropped from year-to-year for each of the last five years. In 2007, it was 69.3. In 2008, it was 68.1. In 2009, it was 66.2. In 2010, it was 64.1. In 2011, it was 63.2. And, in 2012, it was 63.0.

Since 1960, the fertility rate in the United States has declined 46.6 percent. In that year, 118 babies were born per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44.

Of the 3,952,841 babies who were born in the United States in 2012, said the CDC report, 1,609,619—or 40.7 percent–were born to unmarried mothers.

The family is the foundation of American society. The fact that 40 percent of the children born in the United States in 2012 were born to unmarried mothers does not say good things about the future of the family. Children who live with their two original parents generally do better in school, do not get in trouble with the law, and generally fare better in life. Also, children in two-parent families are generally better off financially. Two-parent families are generally not dependent on the government for support. The number of babies born to unwed mothers is both a financial and societal problem for America–it costs the government money and will eventually result in higher crime rates. It is not a good thing.

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Two Pinocchios For The White House Vaccine Statistics

Yesterday Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post awarded two Pinocchios to the White House for their comments on how the sequester would affect children’s vaccines.

The article quotes Congressional testimony from March 5:

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.): “Let me get it straight. Under the president’s cut of $58 million to the [Section] 317 program, you think you could get around that to avoid cutting vaccines to children, but under a sequester, that the president blames on Republicans, you don’t know if you can do that?”

CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden: “We’re going to do everything we can to limit any damage that occurs because of the across-the-board cut, but it reduces our flexibility significantly.”

Harris: “Is it your testimony that under the president’s proposed cut of $58 million in his budget to the 317 program you could have avoided cuts to vaccines to children in Maryland?”

Frieden: “We believe that we could have maintained vaccination levels, yes.”

Well, let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story. Please follow the link above to read the details of the fuzzy math and issues involved in children’s vaccines and the sequester.

The article concludes:

Still, even before the sequester, the administration had sought to reduce costs by ending shots for children who have insurance–on the grounds that the president’s own health-care law was creating new avenues to obtaining vaccinations. Many families might have been dissuaded from getting vaccinations because of the higher costs involved. What are those numbers? That’s still unclear.

The administration’s vaccination statistics earn Two Pinocchios.

I would have given them at least three.

 

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Medical Expenses Of The Elderly

Friday’s Wall Street Journal (I am not linking to the article because it is subscribers only) contained an article entitled, “Commonly Used Medicines Send Seniors to Hospitals.”  The article reports on a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that an estimated 99,628 hospitalizations every year of people 65 years and older are linked to adverse drug events such as allergies and unintentional overdoses. It further reports that nearly half of those hospitalized were age 80 or older. The drugs responsible were not high-risk medications–they were commonly used diabetes pills and blood thinners.

Maybe we need to rethink the way we handle medical care for seniors. Is there a way to make the commonly used drugs safer, for example bottles that somehow remind the person to take their medicine and let them know if they have already taken their dose for the day? I have no idea if that is possible or already in existence, but certainly drug safety might be one way to seriously cut medical expenses for everyone.

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