Sunday, August 17, 2014

Follow-up - drug side-effect suits

Some previous blog entries related to pharma suits:
Misc update (pharma suits) - Mar 26th, 2011
Misc update III - Feb 13th, 2011
Say what? - Aug 25th, 2010
Wyeth v. Levine - Mar 22nd, 2009

Previous blog entries, see links above, had looked at suits related to drug side effects and manufacturers' 'duty to warn.' One entry referenced 'Wyeth vs. Levine', in which Diana Levine sued Wyeth and prevailed on 'pre-emption' (against the trade-name drug manufacturer), while  another referenced 'Mensing' in which Gladys Mensing sued Actavis on 'pre-emption' (against the generic manufacturer) and ultimately lost.

However, in both cases the plaintiffs sued the actual manufacturer of the drug that they were taking. Now, however, the Alabama Supreme Court has upheld its ruling that a plaintiff can sue the trade name manufacturer when they actually used drug made by a generic manufacturer... Read this for their reasoning...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Additional OCO update

Earlier this month Update VI - OCO update discussed the OCO. Back in In June 2011 this blogger had noted that "...the CBO Baseline of March 2011, against which all proposals are scored to determine their effect, included $1.7 Trillion of overseas contingency operations funds (i.e. funds for the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq) over the next ten years..." and that this would leave 'magical money' available for the Pentagon (which at the time was predicting that sequestration would result in doom!).

Now, finally, it appears that lawmakers "from both parties" have woken up to this, expressing "...concern that the funding request is setting a dangerous precedent of maintaining a “slush fund” for the Pentagon to use without any congressional oversight..." Apparently sometimes it takes a while...

Random pictures - destroyed armor


Source: Lost Armour

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Last week saw the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit 2014 in Washington , D.C. "... President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent to the nation’s capital for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first such event of its kind. The Summit, the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, built on the President’s trip to Africa in the summer of 2013 and aimed to strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions..." 

Well, after six years in office, President Obama finally turns his attention to Africa... The continent had been energized and expected big things when President Obama, son of a Kenyan economist,  was elected and sworn into office, only to find themselves relegated to the back-burner.  Perhaps better late than never!

However, despite the pomposity and high-minded talk about gender equality, global health, investing in the future, shared ideals, etc. the administration apparently couldn't help itself, with various members seeming to let it slip that this was as much about competition with China and China's involvement in Africa as about the future of the continent....

First up, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who opined: "Typically, the nature of China's engagement is it brings in thousands of Chinese workers and uses Chinese to build roads, build buildings, rather than giving jobs and opportunity and capacity building for Africans which is a real distinction between the American approach and the Chinese approach. The American approach is not to bring in a bunch of foreigners to take jobs from Africa, but it's actually to build African capacity." 

NPR fact checked this with Howard French, the author of  a book on Chinese investment in Africa ("China's Second Continent") - transcript, audio. Unfortunately this turned out to be not quite on the mark, with the U.S. apparently using many of the same Chinese companies for its construction in Africa:

"... The fact is that the United States builds very little in China. So there's no way of making a very meaningful, direct comparison between the American way of doing business and civil engineering or construction and the way that China does business in this sector. However, one can say that until recently when Congress changed the law to change the eligibility to bar Chinese companies, the United States was spending lots of money to pay for Chinese companies to do contract work on its behalf in Africa...  You know, the United States just a few years ago spent $230 million to pay a Chinese company called Sinohydro to build an irrigation and waterworks system for an American project. The United States spent $71 million for the expansion of the Bamako airport, giving those funds to the same Chinese contractor, Sinohydro. And the problem was that American companies, as I was told by U.S. diplomats, couldn't be interested in this kind of contract work..."

Next up, President Obama : From Obama suggests US is better partner than China to African leaders: "... President Obama took a swipe at China in a speech to a summit of African leaders in Washington on Tuesday, claiming that the US is interested in the continent for more than just its minerals and oil. “We don’t look to Africa simply for its natural resources. We recognise Africa for its greatest resource which is its people and its talents and its potential,” he told the largest gathering of African leaders ever held in Washington. “We don’t simply want to extract minerals from the ground for our growth. We want to build partnerships that create jobs and opportunity for all our peoples, that unleash the next era of African growth,” Although the president did not mention China by name, the comments were clearly aimed at Beijing as his administration uses the summit to promote the US as a better partner in its efforts to catch up with the rapidly expanding Sino-Africa trade..."

Quite apart from the gratuitous swipe at China, what exactly does U.S. trade with Africa consist of? Well from the Office of the United States Trade Representative mostly imports of raw materials and exports of more value-added, 'finished' products (as would be pretty typical of trade with a less-developed country).

Exports: "U.S. goods exports to sub-Saharan Africa in 2013 were $24 billion, up 6.9% ($1.5 billion) from 2012, and up 250% from 2003. U.S. goods exports to sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 1.5% of total U.S. goods exports in 2013. Roughly 30% of U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa went to South Africa in 2013. The top U.S. export markets in sub-Saharan Africa for 2013 were: South Africa ($7.3 billion), Nigeria ($6.5 billion), Angola ($1.5 billion), Ghana ($1.1 billion), and Togo ($956 million).
The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2013 were: Machinery ($4.9 billion), Vehicles ($3.6 billion), Mineral Fuel (oil) ($3.5 billion), Aircraft ($1.3 billion), and Cereals (wheat and rice) ($1.3 billion)."

Imports: "U.S. goods imports from sub-Saharan Africa totaled $39.3 billion in 2013, a 20.8% decrease ($10.3 billion) from 2012, but up 53% from 2003. U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 1.7% of total goods imports in 2013. Approximately 30% of U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa were from Nigeria and 22% from Angola. The top U.S. import suppliers from sub-Saharan Africa for 2013 were: Nigeria ($11.7 billion), Angola ($8.7 billion), South Africa ($8.5 billion), Chad ($2.5 billion), and Congo ($1.2 billion). The five largest import categories in 2013 were: Mineral Fuel (crude) ($26.3 billion), Precious Stones (platinum and diamonds) ($3.2 billion), Vehicles ($2.3 billion), Cocoa ($1.0 billion), and Ores, Slag, Ash (titanium, chromium, and uranium) ($968 million)..."

Good grief! Is this silliness really necessary?  To this blogger it seems rather juvenile and amateurish...

Other links:

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Update IX - Georgia update

Some previous blog entries on Georgia:
Five Years OnAug 4th, 2013
Misc update - GeorgiaJun 1st, 2013
Misc update (Georgia) - May 18th, 2012
Misc update (Georgia) - Dec 28th, 2011
Misc update (Georgia) - May 15th, 2011
Misc update (Georgia) - Mar 26th, 2011
A little war II - Apr 22nd, 2010
A little war I - Mar 17th, 2010
An inconvenient truth - Nov 26th, 2008
Georgia update... - Nov 22nd, 2008
Georgia - Sept 7th, 2008
Immediate Response?!? - Aug 25th, 2008
Georgia (updated) - Aug 15th, 2008

Criminal Charges Filed Against Saakashvili - "... Georgian prosecutor’s office said on July 28 that it filed criminal charges against former president Mikheil Saakashvili. Prosecutor’s office said that charges of exceeding official authorities stem from breaking up of the November 7, 2007 anti-government protests, as well as raid on and “seizure” of Imedi TV station and other assets owned at the time by tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, who died in February, 2008. Prosecutor's office said decision was made to also file same charges against Vano Merabishvili, who was interior minister in 2007; then chief prosecutor Zurab Adeishvili; then defense minister Davit Kezerashvili and Gigi Ugulava, who at the time was Tbilisi mayor..."

Update VIII - UDI update

Previous blog entries referencing UDI:

'FDA Releases Final, Slimmed-Down GUDID Guidance, Leaving Many Details for Late' updates as follows: "... FDA is out with its final guidance on the GUDID, reflecting an extremely unusual approach. While most final guidance documents make changes to the original draft, FDA said many of the changes that it plans to make to the document will instead come in future revisions. "We plan to finalize this section separately," FDA writes a total of 14 times in the latest guidance document. Why the change? "In order to provide labelers access to the latest information as soon as it is available, and address sections that received the most comments and questions, sections of this document are finalized; sections still in draft state are noted and will be finalized at a later time," FDA explained. "A future document" will address those now-empty sections, FDA confirmed in its Federal Register posting on the guidance..."

'Justifying Value from UDI: A Provider's Review of Pilot Results' gives a nice overview of the expected benefits that will (eventually) be derived from the adoption of the UDI...