Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Drugs

Martin Shkreli is the Product of a Broken Healthcare System

A lot of people are very angry with Martin Shkreli. Shkreli is CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. Turing recently purchased the rights to Daraprim, a drug that treats toxoplasmosis, a condition that poses the greatest threat to people with weakened immune systems, such as AIDS patients. 4,400 people are hospitalized with the condition each year in the US, and about 327 people die on average each year. Once Turing acquired Daraprim, it promptly raised the price from $13.50 per pill to $750. Turing and Shkreli claimed that the price increase was necessary to make a profit and to pay for research and development into new toxoplasmosis drugs, but the medical establishment and the public strongly disagree. Dr. David Relman, chief of infectious diseases at VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, told Fortune:

We are not in dire need of new drugs for toxoplasmosis right now. There is no significant drug resistance problem with toxoplasmosis. We do not need them to be undertaking some self-serving marketing campaign. There is no public health need for such. This is simply about greed.

The HIV Medicine Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America concurred, writing a joint letter condemning the move. But in going after Shkreli and Turing individually, we’re collectively missing the point–they are a symptom of a much larger prescription drug problem in America.

Read the rest of this entry »

Clemency for Drug Offenders?

US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Obama administration plans to implement new rules that would reduce sentences for thousands of nonviolent drug offenders currently in federal prisons. This new policy, combined with the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, would allow the administration to commute the mandatory minimum sentences many prisoners received under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. The new approach may feature hundreds of presidential pardons. In the meantime, congress has been considering new legislation (the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014, still pending) that would cut the remaining minimum sentences in half. This is good policy, but it does not go far enough. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking Bad and Morality

Once in a while, I like to indulge my interest in fiction and apply political and moral concepts to the world that isn’t. Today, I’d like to have a look at Breaking Bad. Why Breaking Bad? As a fan, I from time to time enjoy perusing the vast amount that is written about the show online. What sticks out to me is that the very same characters can be considered sympathetic, even heroic, by some viewers, while simultaneously receiving scorn and vilification from others–an unusual phenomenon in television. I also find that the justifications reviewers and viewers use for the various sympathies they hold are muddled. So today I’d like to dissect the show and its characters a little, to come to clearer conclusions about which moral principles are in play. Of course, this will entail extensive plot spoilers, so neophyte viewers should steer clear of this piece.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Slaves?

Apparently Kanye West has a new song called “New Slaves”, and in this song West raps the following lines:

See they’ll confuse us with some bullshit
Like the New World Order
Meanwhile the DEA
Teamed up with the CCA
They tryna lock niggas up
They tryna make new slaves
See that’s that privately owned prisons
Get your piece today

West appears to deliberately draw a distinction between the claim he’s making regarding the American prison system and the kind of zany conspiracy theories that run around the internet–New World Order, Lizard People, Illuminati, and the like.  Is West saying something relevant here, or is he off his rocker? Let’s take a look.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Reaction to Peter Hitchens: Democracy, Drugs, and Free Will

Yesterday evening the university was visited by Peter Hitchens, columnist for the Daily Mail, ardent conservative, and brother to the recently deceased Christopher Hitchens. You can read his blog here. Peter Hitchens exceeded my intellectual expectations and impressed me. He was thoughtful, clever, articulate, and even admitted to not always being thoroughly pleased with the content of the paper for which he writes. I even found myself agreeing with Hitchens in one quite notable, and though I disagree with many of his other positions, the nature of our disagreement was not quite what I expected either. Today I would like to discuss to views and opinions of Peter Hitchens, where I agree with him, where I disagree, and the reasoning behind each.

Read the rest of this entry »