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OpenMarket: Business and Government

  • Obama's Bankruptcy Math Has to be Wrong

    February 25, 2009
    President Obama claimed in his speech tonight:
    "For that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of health care. "This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds."
    This number can't be true.  A bankruptcy every 30 seconds would be equal to 120 bankruptcies per hour.  Multiply that by 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year (presuming a non-leap year), and you get 1,051,200 bankruptcies per year. This numbers seems a little high, even considering that 2008 was a year with a lot of a bankruptcies.  But there's a reason that number seems high.  Namely, it's not true. According to Zacks Investment Research:
    "During 2008, personal bankruptcies had the most significant increase since the major...
  • Wyeth v. Levine: Policy Arguments Regarding Preemption

    February 13, 2009
    The Wyeth v. Levine case presents a narrow set of facts in which the Food and Drug Administration had, for many years, known about the risks presented by intravenous push injection of Phenergan and worked with the manufacturer to carefully word the label description of this risk. Nevertheless, disregarding the limiting facts in the Levine case, a flood of “friend of the Court†pleadings supporting Ms. Levine sought to broaden the preemption debate and persuade the Court of the critical need for additional tort-based supervision of the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Preemption in Wyeth v. Levine: Broader Implications

    February 13, 2009
    The legal arguments of the parties, and the incremental approach typical of the Supreme Court, strongly suggest that the Court will issue a narrow legal ruling addressing FDA preemption only in the context of fully-informed FDA labeling decisions directly challenged in state tort actions. Still, a number of organizations have filed amicus curiae (“friend of the Courtâ€) briefs making “policy†rather than legal arguments regarding the importance of this case.
  • Uber-Attorney Bert Rein to Guest Blog on Federal Preemption Case

    February 13, 2009
    Back in November, I wrote about the pending Supreme Court case Wyeth v. Levine, the decision in which will have a huge impact on the pharmaceutical industry and the law of federal preemption. I am happy to announce that Bert has agreed to contribute a few guest blog posts to Open Market discussing the importance of this case.
  • Coming to a Pharmacy Near You: One Size Fits All

    February 12, 2009
    Tucked away in the stimulus bill is $1.1 billion to fund a new agency modeled after the UK’s NICE, which has repeatedly denied Brits access to breakthrough drugs for life-threatening conditions. Think that can't happen here? Think again, because it already has.
  • Dickie Scruggs Back in Court

    February 9, 2009
    But, alas, not as a litigator - the role that made him rich and famous - but as a defendant. According to Legal Newsline, Richard "Dickie" Scruggs is headed back to federal court to plead guilty to another count of trying to bribe a judge. He's already serving a five-year sentence for a previous bribery attempt. OpenMarket readers will remember Scruggs as one of the fattest of fat cat trial lawyers to emerge from the multi-state tobacco settlement reached between tobacco companies and state attorneys general in 1998. Our own Hans Bader revisited the scandalous fees charged by lawyers like Scruggs last...
  • Tilting at Food Safety Windmills

    February 9, 2009
    Unfortunately, as long as the world's food production system continues to be highly decentralized and fragmented, there will continue to be foodborne illness outbreaks like the most recent salmonella contamination, but there is not enough money in the world to meaningfully increase inspections of the hundreds of thousands of facilities that produce, process, and sell food in the United States. The proposed Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2009 is is designed to make us all feel that the government is “doing something,†while taking more money out of the productive economy and funnelling it to Washington.
  • Springsteen clashes with Obama advisor on Wal-Mart

    February 2, 2009
    In between playing at the Lincoln Memorial for Barack Obama's inaugural concert and performing the half-time show last night at the Super Bowl, Bruce Springsteen got caught in a policy controversy over a promotional deal he made. Springsteen had inked an agreement for Wal-Mart to exclusively sell and promote his new album, "Working on a Dream." This made good business sense, given that a similar arrangement last year with Wal-Mart and hard rock bank AC/DC led to a surprise chart-topping album. But the very mention of the name of Wal-Mart still raises the hackles of some activists, particularly those affiliated with Big Labor. They called on Springsteen to renounce the deal, and he caved, telling the...
  • Len Nichols of NAF on Incentives in Health Care

    February 1, 2009
    12:52pm Len Nichols of the New America Foundation is driving down the same "Middle Road" that the last panel plotted out.  So far, he's applauded John McCain for realizing that price transparency has been a problem in the health care industry and he's applauded Barack Obama for realizing that markets are a good idea and by advocating that a national health care policy focus on working with private insurers. According to Len, these are the biggest problems with the existing system:
    • Incentives in the current system are perverse
    • Current players profit from the flaws in the system, so there are interests who want the system to stay the same
    • Individual choices affect health and health costs, bit time
    • There are tremendous barriers to change...
  • Heart Docs & Health Reform: What about Regulation?

    February 1, 2009
    I'm listening now to a panel discussion at the America College or Cardiology Health System Reform Summit. The panel's topic: "Health Care Reform: State Models for Improving Access to Care."  The panelists: Secretary Kimberly Belshe or California's HHS, John Holahan of the Urban Institute, and Paul Wingle of Massachusettss Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector. So far, I've heard a lot about Massachusetts-style reform programs, which basically break down to mandating that everyone carry some form of insurance and then figuring out a way to help them pay for it—usually this means businesses and governments kicking in a good share of coin. Given the realities of the health care industry, namely that professional and ethical standards result in nearly no one being turned away when they're in dire need of care, insurance mandates seem like a sensible policy. In other words, because...

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