Big Pharma Teams Up with MAGA Lawyers to Keep Price Gouging Patients - The Wednesday AM Quickie 8/30/23

New Orleans - I've always wanted to start one of my articles with a location in the dateline. Anyway, I'm in the Big Easy today for the first time. Wish me luck. - Robert

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Biden Admin Names 10 Obscenely Expensive Drugs to Negotiate; Big Pharma Enlists MAGA Lawyers to Stop Them

In a small, but important, step to lower prescription drug costs for American patients, the Biden administration has announced the 10 drugs it has picked for price negotiation under the Inflation Reduction Act. Here are the selected drugs, per the  Washington Post and a Center for Medicare and Medicaid fact sheet:

  • Eliquis and Xarelto, blood thinners which annually cost Medicare $16 billion and $6 billion, respectively.
  • Jardiance, a medication to treat diabetes and heart failure, which costs Medicare $7 billion per year.
  • Januvia, Farxiga and NovoLog, which treat diabetes and other conditions, with Medicare price tags of $4 billion, $3 billion, and $2.6 billion, respectively.
  • Enbrel and Stelara, arthritis and psoriasis drugs, $2.8 billion and $2.6 billion
  • Entresto, a heart failure medication, $2.9 billion
  • Imbruvica, a medication for blood cancers, $2.6 billion

About 9 million seniors used one or more of these drugs last year. The negotiated prices are expected to save Medicare $100 billion in 5 years after implementation.

In the meantime, pharmaceutical manufacturers will kick and scream about no longer being price gouge for the selected drugs. Big Pharma is teaming up with the MAGA-lawyer extended universe to keep the money spigot open, patients and the public be damned, per the Revolving Door Project via the American Prospect:

In the past few months, however, six pharma companies—Merck, Bristol Myers, Astellas, Johnson & Johnson, Boehringer Ingelheim, and AstraZeneca—and two coalitions of industry groups have filed eight separate lawsuits attempting to preemptively disallow Medicare from negotiating drug prices. Though the actual drugs that will be part of negotiations haven’t even been released yet, the companies and groups began suing in June on the presumption that their or their members’ patented drugs will be included.
Who is helping Big Pharma in the courts? In Merck and Bristol Myers’s respective cases, it’s the conservative law firm Jones Day, which famously represented both Trump campaigns, supplied many Trump administration officials, and had a hand in Trump’s Supreme Court nominations. On the case for both companies is Yaakov Roth, who successfully argued for the gutting of the administrative state in West Virginia v. EPA.

Bristol Meyer's has retained Noel Francisco, the lawyer who defended Trump's Muslim ban before the Supreme Court. English doesn't have adequate vocabularly to express how loathsome these freaks are.

Hot Water Making Hurricane Idalia Stronger

If the projections are correct, Hurricane Idalia is battering the western coast of Florida as a category 4 storm right about now, raising waters 10-15 feet in the Big Bend between the pan handle and Florida's peninsula. CNN is calling it a "once-in-a-lifetime" event; I wouldn't be so sure about that. As the seemingly endless stream of climate change-related extreme weather events this summer has emphasized, a warming world will only make these events more common. Such is also true of Idalia, which is being fueled by hot-tub-like waters in the Gulf of Mexico four degrees hotter than normal for this time of the year. Last month, a buoy of the coast of Florida recorded a surface water temperature above 101 degrees Fahrenheit, per the New York Times. Florida has ordered the evacuation of 22 western counties in anticipation of a deadly storm surge. I'm happy I didn't choose a connecting flight in Tampa for my trip today.

Meta Says It Took Down Massive Chinese Influence Campaign Spanning Most Major Social Media Sites

Meta has identified perhaps the largest covert social media influence campaign to date, according to the New York Times. Over 7,000 Facebook accounts, nearly 1000 Instagram accounts, 30 Facebook and Instagram groups were part of an influence campaign originating from Chinese law enforcement, according to the Meta research group. Hundreds of other accounts were also found on TikTok, Twitter (I won't be calling it X, ever), and Reddit, which the Times determined were still active. It seems as if Zuck is more willing to challenge the Chinese government than Musk, who has strong business ties with China through Tesla. Stories propagated by the influence network included accusations that the US was behind the bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline, claiming COVID originated in the US, and that life for persecuted Uyghurs in Xinjiang was A-Ok. The Chinese cops were apparently not great posters, many of the comments had spelling errors and were recycled many times over. The TikTok about Xinjiang, one of the campaign's most popular, only reached 7,000 views on the platform. These are convenient findings for Meta as they implicate its Chinese-owned competitor TikTok (you can almost feel their glee in giving the operation the cutesy name "Spamouflage"), but the developments are concerning none-the-less.


  • The FBI Has Massively Expanded Its DNA Database The agency is asking for double its current budget to increase it's already massive store. via the Intercept.
  • Steve Scalise, House Majority Leader, Has Blood Cancer He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which Scalise described as "very treatable." via NBC News.
  • Wisconsin Republicans Aim to Axe Election Commissioner A hearing yesterday was the start of a campaign of retribution against Meagan Wolfe, the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, for not overturning the presidential election for Trump. via Politico.
  • Texas National Guard Shot Mexican Man Across Rio Grande Mexico is requesting an investigation. via the Daily Beast.
  • Jack Smith's Team Asked Witnesses How Drunk Giuliani Was When Advising Trump Believe it or not, this is a strategy to head off the Trump team's defense that he was being influenced by bad advice from his lawyers; if Trump knew Rudy was a drunk, and listened to him anyway, then it's Trump's fault. via Rolling Stone.


8.8 million

That's how many job openings there are in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest figure in two years, indicating a cooling labor market. via the Financial Times.


8/30: It's Hump Day! Sam speaks with Ibrahim Al-Marashi, Associate Professor of History at the California State University San Marcos, to discuss his recent writing on the Wagner Group and Blackwater. Then, he is joined by Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large at The American Prospect, to discuss the recent decisions made at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).


Trump Compares Himself To Michael Jackson

He has a weird encyclopedic knowledge about television.

Fresh & Fit Take Tim Pool To Alpha Male School

If you're interested in second-hand embarrassment, this clip is for you.


"[Broadcast Music, Inc.] received a communication from Marshall B. Mathers, III, professionally known as Eminem, objecting to the Vivek Ramaswamy campaign’s use of Eminem’s musical compositions."

-- Broadcast Music, Inc., a performing rights organization, relaying to the Ramaswamy campaign Slim Shady's displeasure with Vivek's corny rendering of "Lose Yourself" on the campaign trail. via CNN.

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