Sunday, October 24, 2010

And You WANT Government Run Healthcare?

My wife blogs about a little bureaucracy at the school. And our kids only go one day a week as part of the Home School Assistance Program. Of course we all know that the smartest health professionals are hired by our public schools.

"The TROUBLE comes when you have to enroll your child in a school and you have three different states regulations and doctor's decision involved. If even one shot is given at the 'wrong' time according to your current state's bureaucrat's rules they'll kick your child out of school until you 'correct' the problem."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Generic Peanut Butter is Not the Same as Generic Drugs

While driving home today, I heard a comment from a candidate for an office in Arizona. She was a physicist. While talking about how Obamacare was wrong for the country she brought up as support that we were all being forced to use generic drugs and sometimes they work, but sometimes they don't work as well as the name brands. With all of things that are wrong with Obamacare, generic drugs are not one of them (mandating generic drugs is, but mandating name brand drugs would be just as wrong, as is mandating coverage of pre-existing conditions).

First off, my guess is the physicist doesn't understand something about generic drugs. This can be excused. I'll take peanut butter as an example. If you go to Walmart, they sell the brand of peanut butter that God eats, Skippy. They also sell, Peter Pan and their own no-name brand. Or generic peanut butter. Generic peanut butter is not the same thing as Skippy. They are chemically different. The ingredients (and proportions of ingredients) are different. This is because Skippy's special recipe is protected by trade secret (which means the company doesn't tell anyone). Coca Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and McDonald's Special Sauce are likewise protected as trade secrets.

Trade secrets are good, if your company is able to keep it a secret. No one can breach a trade secret. Not because the courts will prevent them (on the contrary, the courts have no jurisdiction over mere trade secrets), but because the companies jealously guard the secret. I have heard (but can't confirm because I am not one of them) that there are only two executives at Coca Cola that know the entire formula and they are not allowed to be in the same location together. The KFC recipe of 11 herbs and spices is mixed at separate facilities and then combined at a third. A trade secret gives the company a monopoly on their corner of the world as long as the secret remains a secret.

Drugs on the other hand are not protected by trade secrets. Not a single one of them (at least not any that are anywhere close to coming to market). Drugs are patented early on in the process and as part of it, their chemical makeup is divulged. They are then tested, retested, retested, and retested before being blessed by the FDA. It is really a race against time from when the drug is patented to when it is finally approved and marketed to have enough time left on the exclusivity of the patent to make back the investment. The patent process protects the invention (in this case a drug) so that the owner of the patent has exclusive rights to make or sell license to make that particular drug.

Once the patent time runs out, it is fair game for anyone. Companies that make generic drugs don't waste valuable dollars on R&D, they make tried and true formulas which they get for free from the patent office. The drug they make is approved by the FDA because IT IS THE EXACT SAME AS THE ORIGINAL. OK, that is not true. Company A stamps their pill "R-87" while Company B stamps their pill "5N0P". The active ingredients are the same, the inactive ingredients are the same, the dose is the same (and usually the size and shape are the same - unless that is protected by a different patent).

So Skippy peanut butter tastes better than generic peanut butter because it different. Equate Acetiminephin works identical to Tylenol because they are the same thing. Whats more, in some cases the generic brands are made by subsidiaries of the name brand companies. Furthermore, in a lot of cases the generic companies will sell their drugs to everyone. So not only is Walmart Tylenol the same as K-mart Tylenol and Kroger's Tylenol and Walgreen's Tylenol, more than likely they came off the same assembly line and just were detoured to a different labeling machine.

So to say that generic drugs sometimes work and sometimes don't work as well as name brands is patently false. If the generic doesn't work one of two things is happening: 1) the name brand doesn't work either or 2) you have a psychological response that is inhibiting the drug (sort of a reverse placebo effect). In case #2, this is an expensive problem that you should be able to solve with a little positive thinking and getting rid of your irrational fears.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Office Supplies and Booby Traps

It seems there has been some pilfering going around the office. It was brought up at our morning meeting s this last week. Why someone needs to "borrow" a stapler from one desk when they can ask their admin assistant to order the Whamodyne 9000 Paper Perforator, I'll never know. Personally, I think the company has an unlimited budget for office supplies. I have never been turned down for a request.

So after this was brought up, I raised a question:

Me: "Since we have this pilfering going on, can we booby trap our cubicles?"

Manager (immediately without thinking): "Everyone else can, but you can't!"

Me: "Why not me?"

Manager: "Because I have seen your teddybear mortar and I have heard your conversations about your hobbies. If I gave you permission I have no doubt that a) you would do it and b) it would be effective."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Logic Fail - As Seen At Work Edition

Normally, I don't blog at work. But, I got in the office today and received the following email:

"This is a real issue across the board. Everyone cannot do everything well. Especially in speciality fields. "You can't count on a dentist for heart surgery" Both are MD's."

Um ... no. A heart surgeon has an MD (Doctor of Medicine). He went to medical school. A dentist has a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine). While the DMD may have MD in the acronym, it is not the same thing. A dentist goes to dental school. Dental school and Medical school are not anywhere close to the same thing. An MD that specializes in mouth stuff is called an orthodontist.

So while it would be correct to say that both are doctors, both are not MD's. Of course it would also be correct to say that a college professor and a heart surgeon are doctors.