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OpenMarket: Health Care

  • Registering Some Problems With REACH

    October 11, 2006
    The Wall Street Journal reports today that U.S. and European firms were unsuccessful in an attempt to make the proposed chemicals policy in Europe more affordable during committee consideration of the bill in the EU Parliament. But even if business had succeeded in reducing paperwork costs, the policy would still have adverse effects around the world. The program, known as REACH—for the registration, authorization, and evaluation of chemicals—would require companies to register chemicals they produce, import, or use. The paperwork alone will be expensive, but the program is also likely to produce expensive bans and other regulations on many chemicals. Industry has continually tried to make REACH a more reasonable program, but unfortunately they are fighting a losing battle. The problem is that REACH is fundamentally flawed and thus, cannot be fixed. First, REACH attempts to address...
  • Pesticide Bans No Minor Mistake

    October 5, 2006
    Tina's Rosenberg's article in today's New York Times addresses the devastating impact that misguided bans of the pesticide DDT have had on people in developing nations. The New York Times presents the DDT issue as simply a serious policy mistake. But it's not simply a single mistake—it's part of a dangerous effort by environmental activists around the world to deprive people of various life-saving technologies. The DDT case alone should discredit these groups, yet they continue to have a harmful influence on public policy. Despite the problems DDT bans have caused, environmental activists have successfully advanced a worldwide ban on DDT under the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (known as the POPs Treaty). The treaty has been ratified in enough nations for it to take effect, and the United States Senate plans to ratify it soon. It allows for only limited...
  • X PRIZE launches another prize – mapping genes

    October 5, 2006
    The foundation that gave a huge prize for launching a private spaceship yesterday announced a multi-million dollar prize for fast-track technology to map human genomes. The X PRIZE Foundation said it would be offering a $10 million prize to researchers who devise the technology “that can successfully map 100 human genomes in 10 days.” In its press release the foundation said it was trying to stimulate faster advances in genomics for preventative medicine and procedures. “Only after we have access to affordable and fast genome sequencing will we be able to take advantage of the countless benefits.” Here's to the newest X PRIZE — using private funds to finance private research and innovation.
  • New study shows promise, but not cure

    September 28, 2006
    A new study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows mixed results in dealing with Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes — the most severe type of diabetes that requires close monitoring of blood sugar, multiple insulin injections during the day, and a careful balancing of food. In the study islets, which are cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, were transplanted into 36 patients with Type 1 diabetes. Results showed that the transplanted cells provided insulin independence for up to two years for some patients, but a majority needed insulin again at two years. The islets also helped in controlling blood sugar levels. The cells are taken from the pancreas of dead donors, and in 2001 only 400 were available, while there are...
  • Of Mice and Men

    September 27, 2006

    A new study shows that mice that drink moderate amounts of wine everyday suffer from less memory loss and brain cell death. A huge body of evidence has shown that moderate alcohol consumption helps keep people heart-healthy, and CEI had sued for that positive information to appear on alcoholic beverage labels. Now moderate drinking seems to “slow Alzheimer's-like diseases.”

    The happy mice were given Cabernet Sauvignon wine (really!), ethanol, or plain water— their equivalent of two glasses a day. The ones who did best on mazes were the red wine drinkers. Maybe they thought some Zinfandel was at the end of it.

  • Rachel Carson Lied, Millions Died

    September 22, 2006
    We were all happy to see the World Health Organization finally take steps to embrace wider anti-malarial deployment of DDT, but our friend Steve Milloy reminds us it's hardly a moment to break out the champagne: Overlooked in all the hoopla over the announcement, however, is the terrible toll in human lives (tens of millions dead — mostly pregnant women and children under the age of 5), illness (billions sickened) and poverty (more than $1 trillion dollars in lost GDP in sub-Saharan Africa alone) caused by the tragic, decades-long ban. Much of this human catastrophe was preventable, so why did it happen? Who is responsible? Should the individuals and activist groups who caused the DDT ban be held accountable in some way? Yes, Steve,...
  • Lockyer: SUVs Don't Kill People, Car Companies Kill People

    September 21, 2006
    California's attorney general has sued carmakers DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Ford and subsidiaries of Honda, Nissan and Toyota for global warming impacts on the state. Interesting that the state isn't trying to hold individual car owners — the ones who actually drive and produce the emissions at issue — liable for the alleged damage. This suit seems rather reminiscent of the lawsuits first filed by U.S. cities against gun manufacturers in the late 1990s. Critics at the time pointed out, of course, that it's the people who actually shoot the guns who should be held liable for any damage caused by them. Congress was sufficiently alarmed by the prospects, however, to pass the...
  • DDT to the Rescue

    September 18, 2006
    In an extraordinarily good development, the World Health Organization has officially called for greater use of DDT around the world in order to combat malaria, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives. CEI people and our friends have written widely on the issue of DDT and malaria over the past several years, and it's a relief to finally see some movement in the right direction. It's never too late to exorcise the ghost of Rachel Carson from...
  • A typology for risk assessment?

    September 14, 2006
    New research may help to explain why the term “risk” shouldn't automatically be applied to new technologies, such as biotechnology. According to a University of Sussex research study, new technologies should be evaluated on a continuum of categories — including risk, uncertainty, ambiguity, and ignorance. The article in Food Navigator about the new study also quotes extensively from a speech I gave this summer to the Institute of Food Technologists attacking the use of the precautionary principle applied to biotechnology. Greg Conko has written extensively on this topic here and here and...

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