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OpenMarket: Business and Government

  • Vioxx Class Action Rejected in New Jersey

    September 6, 2007
    The New Jersey Supreme Court just rejected a nationwide class action against Merck over its drug Vioxx, recognizing that it would be inappropriate to apply New Jersey's consumer protection law to claims all across the country. That was correct. State consumer-protection laws vary widely from state to state, meaning that a nationwide consumer class action cannot apply a uniform law. State consumer-protection laws vary widely in their language, and even similarly phrased consumer-protection laws have been interpreted very differently from state to state by different state judiciaries. New Jersey's courts bend over backwards to be pro-plaintiff in employment law and family law, as well as in consumer-protection law. In Taylor v. Metzger (1999), the court allowed a plaintiff to sue for employment...
  • Partnership or Payola?

    August 27, 2007
    Geeks get technology, but they don't always understand economics. John C. Dvorak, one of the brightest journalists in tech, has recognized many of the important economic factors effecting the tech industry, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  But on the latest episode (78) of Cranky Geeks, his weekly video review of tech news, Dvorak and the show's assembled guests lambaste studios for making deals with HD-DVD or Blu-Ray, going so far as to call the deals format payola. Is this a fair charge?
  • Alarming Waste

    August 22, 2007
    Today's Washington Post includes a story on bisphenol A, a chemical that has been used to make flexible, clear plastic products--including baby bottles--since the late 1950s. Numerous studies have found it poses insignificant risks, and no one has ever documented any adverse human health effects. The American Council on Science and Health provides an good overview of the science. Yet activist groups continue to hype the issue. In addition, a panel put together by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Health, says...
  • FDA Tobacco Regulation Bill: A Trojan Horse?

    August 20, 2007
    PR Watch has an interesting story on the cynical baptist-bootlegger alliance behind the bill to give the FDA oversight over the tobacco industry, which would reduce competition in the tobacco industry, while making it harder to market reduced-risk tobacco products to smokers.
  • Drug lag -- precaution or pipelines?

    August 16, 2007

    According to a CNN Money article, a report released yesterday shows that the FDA has been cracking down on new drug approvals. Pharmaceutical companies this year through July had only 38 new drugs approved, down from 55 for the same period last year. The report was from James Kumpel, health care analyst for Friedman, Billings, Ramsey.

    Though some say that's occurring because the pharmaceutical companies' pipelines are drying up, others attribute the slowing down of approvals on the FDA's fear of approving drugs with some side effects, after recent highly publicized concerns with drugs on the market:

    But Fran Hawthorne, author of "Inside the FDA," argues that there's nothing new about Big Pharma's lack of innovation. She said the drug approval slowdown is "far...
  • No Excuse for Resistance to DDT

    August 9, 2007

    Anti-DDT activists in the environmental movement often suggest we should stop using this chemical to save people from malaria and other diseases because mosquitoes will eventually develop resistance to the substance. However, a study published in the journal PloS Online explains why such arguments make no sense.

    The study demonstrates that in addition to still being the most affordable product, DDT is likely the most effective over the long term because it repels most mosquitoes—keeping them from ever entering homes. These effects are critical for a couple reasons. First, mosquitoes are most active in transmitting disease at night as people sleep, so keeping these insects out of homes can reduce disease rates significantly. Second, DDT's repellency effects remain...

  • More on Bad Court Ruling Against Terminally Ill

    August 8, 2007
    "Terminally ill patients do not have a constitutional right to be treated with experimental drugs, even if they likely will be dead before the medicine is approved, a federal appeals court said Tuesday." So reports the AP in the Washington Post. I explained yesterday why the court's decision was wrong and its reasoning was shoddy. Additional commentary on the court's decision can be found at the widely-read Volokh Conspiracy law blog.
  • Drug Maker Faces Lawsuit by Corrupt, Kooky Foreign Government

    August 8, 2007
    Pfizer is seeking the dismissal of a $2 billion lawsuit by the Nigerian state of Kano. Pfizer's purported offense was to give children an experimental drug during a 1996 meningitis epidemic. Kano State claims to be suing out of concern for children's health. As I have previously noted, this is a deeply ironic posture for Kano to take, since it is responsible for reviving the terrible disease of polio by thwarting polio vaccinations of children. As a result, polio, which was once on the verge of being wiped out throughout the world, spread from Kano State into neighboring countries in Africa, reaching as far as the Middle East. Kano State has also permitted Muslim...
  • UN Group Rejects Precautionary Principle

    August 8, 2007
    The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint UN Food and Agricultural Organization-World Health Organization food safety standard-setting body, has apparently agreed to exclude the precautionary principle from its risk analysis standards, despite intense lobbying by the European Union and green groups. The initial proposal, which has been under consideration by the Codex for roughly six years, would have allowed governments to take "preventative measures" to ban certain foods in cases where scientific evidence regarding safety is "uncertain." But, in addition to serving as a huge roadblock to innovation, the precautionary principle is seen (correctly, in my estimation) by many as a tool to support unjustified trade barriers....
  • Court Rejects Terminally Ill Patients' Chance to Live, Upholds FDA Red Tape

    August 7, 2007
    The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 8-to-2 in Abigail Alliance v. Von Eschenbach that terminally ill people cannot challenge the FDA's ban on drugs that have passed an initial safety review, but have not yet completed the FDA's entire, years-long clinical testing process. The court's opinion is fully of shoddy reasoning. The Court claims its decision does not infringe patients' constitutional right to life, even though the FDA bans drugs that doctors view as the last, best hope for their patients, because "the collective judgment of the scientific and medical community is expressed through the FDA's clinical testing process." Survey after survey has shown that doctors think the FDA is too slow in approving drugs, as critics of the court's decision have...

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