Disabled people, sick people are often treated as and described as burdens. We’re so much work to take care of, our drugs are so expensive! Stefan Strecko has cystic fibrosis and can’t get his insurance company to pay for the drug he needs.

A Halifax man who has battled lung infections, digestive issues and had trouble breathing his entire life because of cystic fibrosis says he’s devastated his health insurance provider won’t cover the cost of a promising but prohibitively expensive new medication after initially approving his request. [CBC]

Prohibitively expensive, in this case, is $25,000/month.

There’s an organization in Canada called CADTH that basically determines whether drugs can get insurance coverage. They do a cost-benefit analysis for drugs. In Stefan’s case

The preliminary CADTH review has suggested the need for a 90 per cent reduction in price before it would be covered by public and private health plans, but the final review is pending.

This drug is the best treatment for Stefan, but Canada doesn’t think it’s worth it to relieve his suffering. Instead, they’ll offer him MAID. We won’t pay for him to live, but we will pay for him to die.

CADTH’s reports are why I laid out >$10,000 out of pocket for drugs in the last few years. It’s not that the drugs don’t work, but that the benefits aren’t “worth it” compared to the drug cost.

Of course, they don’t count the days I’m not in the ER because of the drug, or too sick to work but well enough to at least feed myself and sit up for a few hours. Part of that’s because pharmaceutical research is unbelievably scammy and often deliberately makes it very hard to actually tell how well a drug works and what kinds of benefits it has relative to other treatments. Part of that is because they don’t value disabled lives.

Down-weighting benefits is fucked up, but not what I want to write about today. See, the cost is treated as something fixed when it doesn’t have to be. That drug that’s $25,000/month? There is no reason it needs to be so expensive!

We should be making it in a government-run or Crown corporation drug factory and selling it at cost. We could and should be doing this with so many drugs and with vaccines and many other medical supplies as well. Intellectual property rights grant temporary monopolies and the only reason to do that is when the benefits outweigh the costs. It turns out they often don’t.

The drugs many sick and disabled people take create an enormous financial burden for us and the people who care for us, but the flip side of that is that they are enormous profit for pharma companies. We shouldn’t keep prioritizing corporate profits over the health and well being of actual people.

Don’t go to China

I’m really glad I’ve already been to China because any country that thinks taking hostages is a good way to do diplomacy is one I don’t want to travel in.

Canada is caught in the middle of a fight between the US and China. Meng Wanzhou has definitely done jail-worthy stuff, though that has fuck all to do with why the US wanted her arrested. Canada is doing a decent job fending off the US – she hasn’t been extradited yet, after all, but has a real problem with China which is very happy randomly detaining and killing Canadian citizens to try to get Canada to do what it wants.

Canada doesn’t have much power here, but I do think they should make it much more difficult for Canadian citizens to travel to China, if only for their citizens’ protection. And other countries and travelers should take note as well – if China has a beef with your country, they’d be very happy taking you hostage and killing you for geopolitical points.


Biden isn’t betraying Black Americans – he’s just doing what he’s always done

President Biden is following a script that once doomed Black voters — and the party they supported — by not going all out to protect voting rights.
— Read on www.cnn.com/2021/08/01/politics/voting-rights-blunder-democrats-blake/index.html

I know most voters don’t know a ton about the candidates when they vote, but throwing in with Biden as a Black primary voter and then feeling betrayed when he continues his long career of fucking Black people over is some real media and education failure with a big dose of wishful thinking.

We could make better choices

Vaccines are thought to be the best available solution for controlling the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. However, the emergence of vaccine-resistant strains may come too rapidly for current vaccine developments to alleviate the health, economic and social consequences of the pandemic. To quantify and characterize the risk of such a scenario, we created a SIR-derived model with initial stochastic dynamics of the vaccine-resistant strain to study the probability of its emergence and establishment. Using parameters realistically resembling SARS-CoV-2 transmission, we model a wave-like pattern of the pandemic and consider the impact of the rate of vaccination and the strength of non-pharmaceutical intervention measures on the probability of emergence of a resistant strain. As expected, we found that a fast rate of vaccination decreases the probability of emergence of a resistant strain. Counterintuitively, when a relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions happened at a time when most individuals of the population have already been vaccinated the probability of emergence of a resistant strain was greatly increased. Consequently, we show that a period of transmission reduction close to the end of the vaccination campaign can substantially reduce the probability of resistant strain establishment. Our results suggest that policymakers and individuals should consider maintaining non-pharmaceutical interventions and transmission-reducing behaviours throughout the entire vaccination period.
— Read on www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-95025-3