Is Alzheimers drug Aducanumab a breakthrough or a boondoggle?

Patients and their families may see hope in the news that the Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug to slow the pace of Alzheimer’s disease. Aducanumab is the first medicine authorized to treat what might be an underlying cause of the disease: amyloid beta clumps that accumulate in the brain. Yet the evidence from clinical trials that this drug reduces Alzheimer’s is incomplete; it may be only minimally effective, if it works at all. The FDA’s own expert panel strongly objected to the drug’s approval.

All of which makes the FDA’s announcement both perplexing and wrong. It threatens to mislead millions of Alzheimer’s patients. At the same time, because Biogen plans to price the drug at $56,000 a year for the average patient, it also stands to cost Medicare and other insurers a bundle. This underlines the need for two kinds of reform. First, the FDA needs to rethink its processes for approving drugs. Second, the rules controlling how Medicare chooses and pays for medicines need a thorough overhaul.

The FDA has failed to fully explain why it overruled the almost unanimous advice of its advisory panel on aducanumab. The agency didn’t deny that the clinical-trial evidence was poor. It simply ignored that problem and used different reasoning to grant the drug “accelerated approval.”…In fact, it’s a more limited endorsement than ordinary approval, indicating that the drug has not proven a “real effect on how a patient survives, feels or functions,” in the FDA’s words, but nevertheless acts on an underlying disease process in a way that might predict such a benefit…

Despite that, Biogen will sell aducanumab — under the brand name Aduhelm — at an exorbitant cost…The nonprofit Institute for Clinical and Economic Review has said that even if the drug works as well as Biogen suggests it can, it would be cost-effective at a price of $2,600 to $8,300 a year…

But, hey…Congress apparently thinks Biogen should get every penny they can squeeze from us, our tax dollars and anything else they lay their greedy hands on.

More UFO “information” from the Feds

For months, the public has been awaiting the release of a legally mandated intelligence report laying out what the U.S. government knows about these mysterious craft, which appear to do things outside the reach of known technology. And for days, the public has been disappointed after it was widely reported last week that the unclassified portion of this document will offer neither evidence that UFOs are the product of alien civilizations or credible theories as to what they actually are—though it will, apparently, insist that they are not part of secret U.S. programs…

If the phenomena were Chinese or Russian aircraft, officials said, that would suggest the two powers’ hypersonic research had far outpaced American military development…

One problem with this is that there is, technically, no such thing as a hypersonic weapon. The phrase is a marketing term describing different unproven technologies, including boost-glide vehicles and cruise missiles…

A more salient problem is that hypersonic weapons not only do not but cannot behave in the ways the UFOs that have gripped the imaginations of the public and the Pentagon do. If the idea that these craft are piloted by grey aliens intent on treating humanity as livestock seems magical, it’s more realistic than them actually being revolutionary, physics-defying variants of known weapons systems.

Read through the article. Unsurprising – to me – it looks more like a ploy calculated by our military, Biden, the corporations which will profit from more money thrown down the rathole of creating more unnecessary weapons systems.

US cannabis industry’s big problem: Too much cash


Matthew Hatcher/Reuters

Marijuana can be sold legally in 36 US states and the District of Columbia (DC) for medical use and in 15 of them and in DC for recreational purposes. But it is still illegal on a federal level, meaning most banks refuse to service the industry in case they fall afoul of money laundering laws…

With the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing legalisation driving a surge in cannabis use, the sector’s producers, manufacturers and retailers are awash in cash, adding risk and costs to the most basic business transactions from paying employees and filing taxes to finding somewhere to store their income…

Legal US cannabis sales grew 30 percent to $22bn last year, more than the $17.5bn Americans spent on wine, according to data from Euromonitor. Sales are expected to jump more than 20 percent this year…

The House of Representatives passed a bill in April that would allow cannabis firms to have bank accounts, get loans and accept credit card payments but it may not make it to the Senate because Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to work instead towards lifting the federal ban on cannabis.

A full federal green light is the industry’s ultimate goal but it is not counting on Schumer’s pledge to make it happen by next year.

Ah, yes. Several solutions are at hand. All that is needed is decision, a vote, and implementation by Congress. And our politicians are so good at getting that part done, eh?

Rediscovering American pollution hidden for decades

Marine scientists say they have found what they believe to be more than 25,000 barrels that possibly contain DDT dumped off the Southern California coast near Catalina Island, where a massive underwater toxic waste site dating back to World War II has long been suspected…

Historical shipping logs show that industrial companies in Southern California used the basin as a dumping ground until 1972, when the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, also known as the Ocean Dumping Act, was enacted…

Disposing of industrial, military, nuclear and other hazardous waste was a pervasive global practice in the 20th century, according to researchers.

Resting deep in the ocean, the exact location and extent of the dumping was not known until now.

Just a suggestion … Reflect upon all the governments in power in Washington over all these decades. A certain number of politicians in charge knew about this. Probably gave their permission. Another number knew … said something like “Shucks. I don’t like this!” And did nothing.

I have to wonder, once again, if there is a more useless job description than “elected official”

Bye-bye, Republican Party


Lyle Darrah outside his home in Mead, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021

Lyle Darrah was on a conference call at work when the riot at the U.S. Capitol started on Jan. 6. When his boss mentioned what was happening, he turned on news coverage — and immediately felt his last allegiance to the Republican Party slipping away…

Later, Darrah, age 49, sat in his living room and pulled up the state’s voter registration website. And then, like thousands of other Coloradans in the wake of the insurrection, he left the Republican Party…

In the week from Jan. 6 through Jan. 12, about 4,600 Republicans changed their party status in Colorado…There was no comparable effect with any other party…

The number of people changing parties spiked immediately after the Capitol breach, though their motivations varied widely. About 200 made the same dramatic leap as Darrah, choosing to join the Democratic Party. Hundreds more went to conservative third parties…

RTFA…

…Interviews and data analysis show how the tumultuous post-election period, driven by the former president’s false claims of a stolen election and culminating in the Capitol riot and the current impeachment effort, has created a new split within the Republican Party.

Trump signs bill in time for Congress-critter paychecks. Unemployed millions get to wait another week.

President Trump unexpectedly capitulated Sunday night and signed the stimulus bill into law, releasing $900 billion in emergency relief funds into the economy and averting a Tuesday government shutdown…

Trump signed the bill while vacationing in Florida and on a weekend when he had allowed unemployment benefits for 14 million Americans to expire.

Trump takes care of his own. Democrats and Republicans in Congress get their paychecks. Why lay economic problems on the class of bureaucrats keeping visions of sugar plums rolling out to the Press?

The people he screwed are workers already out of a job. Never his concern.