Big Pharma fights competition, shows its crony colors

Robert King of the Washington Examiner highlights the latest example of big, entrenched corporate interests fighting off pesky competition.

The pharmaceutical industry is trying to head off a congressional push to loosen regulations for compounding pharmacies, a cheaper competitor.

Several pharmaceutical trade groups and public advocacy groups Pew Charitable Trusts and Trust for America’s Health wrote to Senate leaders Wednesday to keep regulations for compounding pharmacies intact. The impetus was a provision tucked into a House appropriations bill that would loosen compounding regulations.

Compounding involves a pharmacist making a personalized drug for a patient. For instance, if a drug is not available in a certain dose then a compounder can make it in that dose based on the patient’s prescription.

The House provision would allow a pharmacist to make a small amount of a drug in preparation for getting a prescription from a doctor, a practice called “office use” compounding.

The bill, which cleared the House Appropriations Committee last week, would ensure that the practice remains.

A report on the bill said that a 2013 law to bolster federal authority over the pharmacies improperly restricted the practice.

The appropriations bill calls on the Food and Drug Administration to issue guidance on how compounding pharmacies can properly do “office use.”

Senate appropriators are now starting work on their own FDA funding bill.

So drug companies want the Senate to leave out the “office use” provision in any version of their bill.

EPA: We don’t need no stinking Supreme Court

Michael Bastasch of The Daily Caller reports on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s disregard of a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials are moving ahead with a key part of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) despite the Supreme Court issuing a stay against the agency’s global warming plan in February.

The EPA submitted a proposal to the White House for green energy subsidies for states that meet the federally mandated carbon dioxide reduction goals early. The Clean Energy Incentive Program would give “credit for power generated by new wind and solar projects in 2020 and 2021” and a “double credit for energy efficiency measures in low-income communities,” according to Politico’s Morning Energy.

Te move seems to violate the Supreme Court’s stay against CPP preventing the EPA from implementing its plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants. EPA, however, argues it’s doing this for states that want to voluntarily cut emissions — despite this being part of CPP.

“Many states and tribes have indicated that they plan to move forward voluntarily to work to cut carbon pollution from power plants and have asked the agency to continue providing support and developing tools that may support those efforts, including the CEIP,” reads a statement provided to Politico from EPA. …

… EPA has been moving forward with aspects of the CPP despite the Supreme Court’s decision. After the court’s February decision, EPA began signalling it would continue to work with states that want to “voluntarily” move forward.

“Are we going to respect the decision of the Supreme Court? You bet, of course we are,” McCarthy told utility executives in February. “But it doesn’t mean it’s the only thing we’re working on and it doesn’t mean we won’t continue to support any state that voluntarily wants to move forward.”

Likewise, the head of EPA’s air and radiation office, Janet McCabe, has also suggested the rule will eventually be upheld.

National Review writer targets Target’s bathroom policy

David French explains at National Review Online why Target’s bathroom policy — highly publicized in the wake of North Carolina’s adoption of House Bill 2 — has changed his mind about boycotts.

Instead of boycotting, I do my best to inform and persuade — all while supporting the best conservative entrepreneurs, the people who represent our best hope for corporate culture change. There are times, however, when I can be pushed too far — when a boycott isn’t so much a matter of making a statement as it is a matter of safety. Target has decided to open its bathrooms to people of any gender — allowing people to choose the restroom “that corresponds with their gender identity.” It didn’t do so because it was compelled by law but because it made a choice, a choice that could needlessly and foolishly expose my wife and daughters to sexual predators, with store staff helpless to do anything to stop even obviously masculine people from walking into a woman’s bathroom. …

… Obviously the odds of any given negative incident are quite low, but if I’m given the choice between a store that opens the women’s room to men and one that doesn’t, why would I choose the store that provides an opening for sexual predators? The kind of people who prey on women and girls can and will exploit every opportunity to do so, and to provide them with additional access to mothers and daughters is madness. Target is doing so for the sake of making a statement on behalf of the extraordinarily small slice of the population that (1) identifies as transgender; and (2) is too stubborn to use either a stall in the restroom for their sex or the increasing number of single-occupancy “family restrooms” that proliferate in newer stores. A man who bypasses a single-occupancy restroom to use the women’s room isn’t simply trying to relieve himself, he’s making a statement.

The Left tells the public that transgenderism looks like Caitlyn Jenner or Laverne Cox. In reality, it presents a spectrum of appearance and behavior that leaves store employees helpless to discern the difference between the pranksters, predators, and the genuine troubled souls in the trans community. Target’s social justice warriors are placing its employees and its customers in a precarious position. I’ve shopped there for years. I may never again.

Goldberg calls on Indiana’s governor to choose a side

Jonah Goldberg explains at National Review Online why he believes Indiana Gov. Mike Pence needs to speak up as the Republican presidential nomination battle moves to the Hoosier State.

Someone slap a photo of Mike Pence on a milk carton.

The Indiana governor may not have been abducted, but he’s certainly missing in action on the central question facing the Republican party: Are you with Trump, or against him?

Pence is hardly alone on the sidelines, of course. But the crowd of wet-fingered politicians trying to determine which way the wind is blowing doesn’t matter. Pence does. If Donald Trump loses the May 3 Indiana primary, it is all but certain he will fall short of the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the nomination on the first ballot. Indiana is now the Gates of Vienna for stopping the Trumpian takeover of the GOP.

That’s why Ohio governor John Kasich and Texas senator Ted Cruz have struck an admittedly awkward and somewhat unsightly deal to coordinate their campaigns to keep Trump from winning there. Kasich is dropping out of the Indiana race, and Cruz will clear a path for Kasich in New Mexico and Oregon. Kasich almost immediately stumbled trying to stick to the deal, but it remains as close to a united front against the longtime-Democrat-turned-Republican pretender as we’re going to get.

And where is Pence, longtime proponent of conservative courage? In his bunker, insisting that he’s “for anybody but Hillary and Bernie Sanders.”

To be fair, Pence is in a pickle because he’s up for reelection in 2016, and the beleaguered Hoosier thinks he can’t afford to alienate any Republican voters. Boo hoo.

New Carolina Journal Online features

Dan Way reports for Carolina Journal Online on continuing concerns surrounding the Syrian refugee resettlement process.

Terry Stoops’ Daily Journal highlights problems tied to a state public school computer system.

Review of WRAL’s “Grading Teacher Pay”

Last night, WRAL aired “Grading Teacher Pay,” a short documentary examining various aspects of the teacher pay debate in North Carolina.  I posted some thoughts on the documentary here.

My general take is that it “was like a Jim Hunt Big Mac, hold the Berger.”

Newsweek asks: “Why Are They Hiding the Good News About Fracking?”

Jeff Stier’s column for Newsweek begins:

Geologists at the University of Cincinnati just wrapped up a three-year investigation of hydraulic fracturing and its impact on local water supplies.

The result? There’s no evidence—zero, zilch, nada—that fracking contaminates drinking water. Researchers hoped to keep these findings secret.

Why would a public research university boasting a top-100 geology program deliberately hide its work?

Because, as lead researcher Amy Townsend-Small explained, “our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results. They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping our data could point to a reason to ban it.

The issue reminded me of The News & Observer’s disappointment with the results of Duke researchers Robert Jackson and Avner Vengosh’s study of hydraulic fracturing. Prior to the release of the study, the editors had preemptively accused Republican state leaders of “deaf ears” and wondered aloud if they could be

counted on to do their due diligence when it comes to safety research about fracking, even to the point of changing course and acknowledging that perhaps fracking isn’t for North Carolina after all?

I have written frequently on the strengthening research consensus on the safety of hydraulic fracturing. The process is intrinsically safe. Again, well construction is the key.

On a side note, those interested in the chemicals injected during the process (99 percent of which is water and sand) are encouraged to read my Spotlight report on fracking chemicals, describing what they are, what they’re used for, and where they’re also found around the house.

Twelfth-grade students underperform on NAEP

Today, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released the results of the 2015 Mathematics and Reading Assessments for twelfth-grade students.  The news was not positive.

  • The average mathematics score for twelfth-grade students in 2015 was lower than 2013 by about 2 points.  It was not significantly lower than the first year of the new testing framework in 2005.
  • The average reading score for twelfth-grade students in 2015 was not significantly different from 2013 but was significantly lower than the first year of testing, 1992.

Among the more worrisome findings is that in “both subjects, the scores of the lower-performing students (at the 10th and 25th percentiles) decreased compared to the previous assessment in 2013.”  In addition, “the [mathematics] score of middle-performing students (at the 50th percentile) declined compared to 2013.”

NAEP tested a nationally representative sample of students.  As a result, there are no state-level results.