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More Bitter Pills For Big Pharma: Patents are expiring on blockbuster drugs, and there's not much in the pipelines -- Executives fear that Washington will get tough in the wake of the Vioxx debacle Last year, Merck & Co. made pharmaceutical history as the company that suffered the greatest agony due to a pain remedy. In September, Merck withdrew Vioxx, its $2.5 billion pain medication, after a study confirmed fears that the drug raised the risk of heart attacks.
Within weeks, Merck had plenty of company: A study linked Pfizer Inc.'s (PFE ) Celebrex to heart problems. Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY ) warned of potential liver problems with Strattera, a drug for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. AstraZeneca PLC (AZN ) disclosed that Iressa, a lung cancer treatment, did not extend patients' lives. And Crestor, a cholesterol-lowering drug from the same company, fell under scrutiny for potential side effects. By the end of the year, all this heat was battering pharmaceutical company valuations and misting future prospects for drug stocks.
The current year is unlikely to mark a return of robust health for the drug sector. A preliminary estimate from business information and consulting firm IMS Health (RX ) shows drug sales in the U.S. will be up 9.5% this year, to $259 billion. That's a tad better than 2004, with estimates showing sales rising 9%. But it's hardly a stellar performance: The industry hadn't posted single-digit growth since 1994. (Bloomberg)
Bush & Bin Laden George W. Bush Had Ties to Billionaire bin Laden Brood - The unexplained death of Salem, Osama bin Laden's oldest brother, in 1988, brought to an abrupt end a long and intriguing relationship between President Bush and the head of the bin Laden family fortune (American Free Press)
France Finds No Evidence of Hijack Plot U.S. intelligence officials told their French counterparts that members of the al-Qaida terrorist network would try to board the planes over Christmas - None of the passengers on the canceled flights, including those questioned at the airport, were known to French intelligence authorities or found to have links with Islamic extremist groups, the official said. (Associated Press)
NATO’s secret armies linked to terrorism? According to a document compiled by the Italian military secret service in 1959, the secret armies had a two-fold strategic purpose: firstly, to operate as a so-called “stay-behind” group in the case of a Soviet invasion and to carry out a guerrilla war in occupied territories; secondly, to carry out domestic operations in case of “emergency situations”. (ISN Security Watch)
Got Hormones The Controversial Milk Drug That Refuses To Die - FDA Veterinarian Richard Burroughs said that agency officials “suppressed and manipulated data to cover up their own ignorance and incompetence.” (News With Views)
Covert X-rays tested as security tool Department of Homeland Security spokesman Donald W. Tighe said in a statement: ''We look forward to working with the FDA and other federal, state, and local partners in evaluating what protective measures are put in place and what technologies are used, balancing security and privacy with public health." (Boston Globe)
Area man stirs debate on WTC collapse South Bend firm's lab director fired after questioning federal probe - Underwriters Laboratories Inc., according to Ryan, "was the company that certified the steel components used in the construction of the WTC buildings." Ryan wrote that last year, while "requesting information," UL's chief executive officer and fire protection business manager disagreed about key issues surrounding the collapse, "except for one thing -- that the samples we certified met all requirements." UL vehemently denied last week that it ever certified the materials. (South Bend Tribune)
Scientists debate blending species In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in their veins. In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human. In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells firing inside their skulls.
These are not outcasts from “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” the 1896 novel by H.G. Wells in which a rogue doctor develops creatures that are part animal and part human. They are real creations of real scientists.
Biologists call these hybrids chimeras, after the mythical Greek creature with a lion’s head, a goat’s body and a serpent’s tail. They are products of experiments in which human stem cells were added to developing animal fetuses.
Chimeras are allowing scientists to watch, for the first time, how nascent human cells and organs mature and interact – not in the cold isolation of laboratory dishes but inside the bodies of living creatures. Some are already revealing deep secrets of human biology and pointing the way toward new medical treatments. (Washington Post)
New Iraq Patent Law Will Make Traditional Farmers Seed Saving Illegal IRAQI FARMERS FARM-SAVED SEED AND FREE INNOVATION TRADITION
NOW RULED ILLEGAL UNDER NEW CORPORATE FRIENDLY PATENTING LAW
FOCUS ON THE GLOBAL SOUTH AND GRAIN, COALITION AGAINST BAYER, CBG NETWORK: -
For generations, small farmers in Iraq operated in an essentially
unregulated, informal seed supply system. Farm-saved seed and the free
innovation with and exchange of planting materials among farming communities
has long been the basis of agricultural practice. This has been made illegal
under the new law.
The seeds farmers are now allowed to plant --- "protected" crop varieties
brought into Iraq by transnational corporations in the name of agricultural
reconstruction --- will be the property of the corporations. While
historically the Iraqi constitution prohibited private ownership of biological resources, the new U.S.-imposed patent law introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds.
Inserted into Iraq's previous patent law is a whole new chapter on Plant
Variety Protection (PVP) that provides for the "protection of new varieties of
plants." PVP is an intellectual property right (IPR) or a kind of patent for
plant varieties which gives an exclusive monopoly right on planting material
to a plant breeder who claims to have discovered or developed a new variety.
So the "protection" in PVP has nothing to do with conservation, but refers
to safeguarding of the commercial interests of private breeders (usually
large corporations) claiming to have created the new plants.
To qualify for PVP, plant varieties must comply with the standards of the
UPOV Convention, which requires them be new, distinct, uniform and stable.
Farmers' seeds cannot meet these criteria, making PVP-protected seeds the
exclusive domain of corporations. The rights granted to plant breeders in
this scheme include the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, sell, export,
import and store the protected varieties. - Food sovereignty is the right of people to define their own food and
agriculture policies, to protect and regulate domestic agricultural
production and trade, to decide the way food should be produced, what should
be grown locally and what should be imported.
The demand for food sovereignty and the opposition to the patenting of seeds
has been central to the small farmers' struggle all over the world over the
past decade. By fundamentally altering the IPR regime, the U.S. has ensured
that Iraq's agricultural system will remain under "occupation" in Iraq.
Iraq has the potential to feed itself. But instead of developing this
capacity, the U.S. has shaped the future of Iraq's food and farming to serve
the interests of US corporations. The new IPR regime pays scant respect to
Iraqi farmers' contributions to the development of important crops like
wheat, barley, date and pulses.
While political sovereignty remains an illusion, food sovereignty for the
Iraqi people has already been made near impossible by these new regulations.
Iraq's freedom and sovereignty will remain questionable for as long as
Iraqis do not have control over what they sow, grow, reap and eat. (The Agribusiness Examiner)
'Naked' scanner deployed at Heathrow In the US, officials are refusing to deploy the device until it can be further refined to protect passengers’ modesty. The new scanner is on trial until the end of the year at Heathrow. If the trial goes well, it could be rolled out across all British airports. (Daily Times)
'See through clothes' scanner gets outing at Heathrow Oh, that is a gun in your pocket... - "QinetiQ conducted a trial of a prototype imager at Gatwick airport in 2002, with favourable response from both passengers and operating staff" - At airports specifically, naked scanners look very much like a solution in search of a problem, and just about the only exhibit trotted out in their favour is 'shoe-bomber Richard Reid', whose cunning plan the Rapiscan 1000 would allegedly have detected. (The Register)
Larry King Live: Bin Laden Releases New Videotape Tonight, four days before America votes in the first election since 9/11, a new Osama bin Laden tape addressing the American people and naming both President Bush and John Kerry. How will this affect the race? We'll ask a living legend of broadcast journalism, Walter Cronkite, the former CBS News anchor. (CNN)
2 say they found 9/11 'black boxes' Two men who worked extensively in the wreckage of the World Trade Center claim they helped federal agents find three of the four "black boxes" from the jetliners that struck the towers on 9/11 - contradicting the official account (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush Bruce Bartlett, a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury official for the first President Bush, told me recently that ''if Bush wins, there will be a civil war in the Republican Party starting on Nov. 3.'' The nature of that conflict, as Bartlett sees it? Essentially, the same as the one raging across much of the world: a battle between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and true believers, reason and religion.
''Just in the past few months,'' Bartlett said, ''I think a light has gone off for people who've spent time up close to Bush: that this instinct he's always talking about is this sort of weird, Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.'' Bartlett, a 53-year-old columnist and self-described libertarian Republican who has lately been a champion for traditional Republicans concerned about Bush's governance, went on to say: ''This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about Al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He believes you have to kill them all. They can't be persuaded, that they're extremists, driven by a dark vision. He understands them, because he's just like them. . . .
''This is why he dispenses with people who confront him with inconvenient facts,'' Bartlett went on to say. ''He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.'' Bartlett paused, then said, ''But you can't run the world on faith.''
Forty democratic senators were gathered for a lunch in March just off the Senate floor. I was there as a guest speaker. Joe Biden was telling a story, a story about the president. ''I was in the Oval Office a few months after we swept into Baghdad,'' he began, ''and I was telling the president of my many concerns'' -- concerns about growing problems winning the peace, the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army and problems securing the oil fields. Bush, Biden recalled, just looked at him, unflappably sure that the United States was on the right course and that all was well. '''Mr. President,' I finally said, 'How can you be so sure when you know you don't know the facts?''' (New York Times)
How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power Rumours of a link between the US first family and the Nazi war machine have circulated for decades. Now the Guardian can reveal how repercussions of events that culminated in action under the Trading with the Enemy Act are still being felt by today's president - "The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism" (London Guardian)
9-11 Mysteries Remain: Three Years After Terror Attacks, Public Still Doubts 'Official' Story Three years after the events of 9-11, half of the residents of New York City believe U.S. leaders had foreknowledge and "consciously failed" to act to prevent the disasters, while two in three want a new investigation of the "still-unanswered questions."
In the first survey of public opinion about allegations of U.S. government complicity and whitewashing of the events of 9-11, a Zogby International poll found that fewer than two in five New Yorkers believe the official 9-11 commission "answered all of the important questions about what actually happened on Sept. 11."
One in two New York City residents say that senior government officials “knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around Sept. 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act,” according to the poll of Aug. 24-26, 2004.
Sixty-six percent called for another full investigation, by Congress or Elliot Spitzer (left), New York’s attorney general, to resolve the “unanswered questions.” (American Free Press)
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