A groundbreaking antitrust lawsuit is ensnaring the generic drug industry

It’s the biggest lawsuit you might not know anything about: Generic drug companies stand accused of running a “cartel” that rigged the market and fixed prices, costing patients and taxpayers, according to a complaint that has been joined by almost every state’s attorney general.

The scope just keeps getting bigger: The litigation started by focusing on two drugs but has since expanded to implicate 16 companies and more than 300 drugs, Connecticut Attorney General Joseph Nielsen, who has led the effort, told the Washington Post.

“This is most likely the largest cartel in the history of the United States,” Nielsen told the Post’s Christopher Rowland. Not mincing words.

We’ll run through the juicy details in a minute. But it’s worth stepping back and fully appreciating, if the states’ allegations are true, how thoroughly these drug companies have bastardized a system that is supposed to bring down drug prices.

How the generic drug market works — or is supposed to work — in America

Generics are the primary means of lowering drug costs in America. In the United States, if a company develops a new drug, we reward it by giving it a monopoly. New drugs are protected by patents for several years, and the company can set whatever price it wants, absent the discounts negotiated by health insurers or mandated for government programs.

But after a while, the patent expires. That’s where generics come in: They can start offering their own version of the new drug, medically equivalent but available at a much lower price. As more generic competitors enter the market, the price continues to decline.

This system frequently has the desired effect. When there are multiple generic competitors, the price typically falls to 20 percent or less of what the brand-name version originally sold for. Generic drugs account for 90 percent of the prescriptions …read more

Source:: Vox – All

A groundbreaking antitrust lawsuit is ensnaring the generic drug industry

It’s the biggest lawsuit you might not know anything about: Generic drug companies stand accused of running a “cartel” that rigged the market and fixed prices, costing patients and taxpayers, according to a complaint that has been joined by almost every state’s attorney general.

The scope just keeps getting bigger: The litigation started by focusing on two drugs but has since expanded to implicate 16 companies and more than 300 drugs, Connecticut Attorney General Joseph Nielsen, who has led the effort, told the Washington Post.

“This is most likely the largest cartel in the history of the United States,” Nielsen told the Post’s Christopher Rowland. Not mincing words.

We’ll run through the juicy details in a minute. But it’s worth stepping back and fully appreciating, if the states’ allegations are true, how thoroughly these drug companies have bastardized a system that is supposed to bring down drug prices.

How the generic drug market works — or is supposed to work — in America

Generics are the primary means of lowering drug costs in America. In the United States, if a company develops a new drug, we reward it by giving it a monopoly. New drugs are protected by patents for several years, and the company can set whatever price it wants, absent the discounts negotiated by health insurers or mandated for government programs.

But after a while, the patent expires. That’s where generics come in: They can start offering their own version of the new drug, medically equivalent but available at a much lower price. As more generic competitors enter the market, the price continues to decline.

This system frequently has the desired effect. When there are multiple generic competitors, the price typically falls to 20 percent or less of what the brand-name version originally sold for. Generic drugs account for 90 percent of the prescriptions …read more

Source:: Vox – All

Advent, explained

A delicious Advent calendar

From chocolate calendars to wreaths in church, the season is all about anticipation.

Most Christmas customs in the US share two characteristics. First, it’s usually hard to pin down their origins to a single source. And second, their roots almost always reach back to religious custom — Christmas being the second most important feast day (behind Easter) on the Christian calendar — but have since been adapted and, in some cases, scrubbed of religious content to make them more broadly palatable.

The celebration of Advent — whether with wreaths in church or calendars at home — is among these customs. On the one hand, it’s one of the major seasons celebrated by most Christian churches in the Western tradition: Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and many additional Protestant churches mark the roughly month-long period with special observance.

But the word Advent comes from the Latin word for “arrival” — adventus — which means non-Christians can celebrate it simply as a fun countdown to Christmas. In that respect, it’s also become a marketing opportunity for retailers, mostly through Advent calendars, which have been around since the 19th century and have of late grown steadily more, shall we say, creative.

Most modern Advent calendars don’t technically cover the season of Advent

Most Advent calendars start on December 1. But the actual first day of the Advent season changes every year. In 2018, that day is December 2. In 2019, it will be December 1. The final day is the same every year: December 24, Christmas Eve — though many calendars run through Christmas Day.

The reason for the shifting start date is simpler than it appears. As celebrated by Christian churches in the Western tradition (as opposed to Eastern Orthodox churches, which keep a different calendar), the season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday …read more

Source:: Vox – All

NASA says Voyager 2 is the second human object ever to touch interstellar space — the void between stars

voyager spacecraft illustration nasa

NASA’s twin Voyager probes launched into space more than 41 years ago.
Voyager 1 left a crucial part of the solar system called the heliosphere — the main region of the sun’s influence — in August 2012.
The space agency now says its Voyager 2 probe exited the heliosphere in November 2018, once it got about 11 billion miles from Earth.
However, the Voyagers have not left the solar system “and won’t be leaving anytime soon,” NASA says.

About 11 billion miles from Earth, a NASA probe has broken another record for humanity.

The space agency separately launched its twin Voyager spacecraft in 1977 with a mission to explore the outer solar system. The car-size Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes exploited a rare alignment of the planets (and their gravitational fields) to zoom past and study worlds like Uranus and Neptune for the first time.

But once the Voyagers’ main missions ended, the nuclear-powered robots kept going. And going.

The probes are still flying away from the sun at speeds of more than 34,000 mph. That has made the Voyagers the two farthest human-made objects in existence.

Voyager 1 officially left what researchers call the heliosphere — the term for the vast and crucial bubble of the sun’s influence — on August 25, 2012. It sailed into the void between stars, called interstellar space.

That doesn’t mean it left the solar system, though. Rather, Voyager 1 broke through the heliopause: the area where a “wind” of the sun’s high-speed plasma particles grinds to a relative halt. From that distance, it takes light 1,000 minutes to travel to Earth.

Now NASA says Voyager 2, which travels about 4,000 mph slower than its twin, achieved the same feat on November 5, 2018.

“I think …read more

Source:: Business Insider