On Dec. 13 I’d received this heady news from Joe Biden and the White House entitled: ‘God willing, this bill will save lives’. In part:
“Last Monday night, forty-four years after the people of Delaware first sent me to the United States Senate, I presided over a Senate vote for one of the last times.
As Vice President of the United States and president of the Senate, I served as the presiding officer as the Senate moved forward on the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill that will harness America’s best minds in science, medicine, and technology to tackle the biggest health challenges of our time.
This bill will help us combat the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic ripping apart families and communities. It invests in programs to improve mental health treatment and suicide prevention. It will provide resources for President Obama’s BRAIN and Precision Medicine initiatives, so that our world-class researchers can figure out how to better prevent, treat, and eventually cure Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injuries.”
Watch at 2:00pm ET: Vice President Biden joins President Obama as he signs the Cures Act into law (video and transcripts)
Now given the axiom ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’, I kept the damned letter in case I’d have time to scout about a bit online. But aha! Didn’t Brad Dixon at wsws.org and Public Citizen (pdf) do all the work, and far, far, better than I could have. Ooof, does he nail it in the title: ‘The 21st Century Cures Act: A gift to the US pharmaceutical industry’
It’s very long, full of facts, figures, analyses, and quotes from critics. It opens:
“The 21st Century Cures Act is an early Christmas gift from the US Congress to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. The bill guts the regulatory powers of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), weakening the standards used to judge the safety and efficacy of drugs and medical devices. Notably, the bill does nothing to address skyrocketing drug prices.
As part of its public relations cover for the corporate giveaway, Congress included in the bill some limited funding for biomedical research and other health initiatives. This funding, however, is not mandatory and will be subject to the annual appropriations battles over discretionary spending. It is likely that these funds will never materialize.
Crafted over the course of two years with the input of more than 1,400 lobbyists, the Cures Act received overwhelming bipartisan support. The House voted 392 to 96 in favor of the nearly 1,000-page bill, and last week the Senate passed the bill in a vote of 94 to 5. President Obama says he looks forward to signing the bill when it reaches his desk.”
Dixon cites the various agency dispersals, cites the fact that the ‘Cures’ act will further enable off-label promotion of drugs to insurance providers and adds these tidbits and more, including some of the largest lobbyists expenditures, hint: not chump change:
“…the Cures Act actually cuts $3.5 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to The Hill. The fund was established to promote the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, hospital-acquired infections and chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”
(But of course it’s okay because: the next president, eh?)
Dixon contrasts the Kefauver-Harris Amendments [1962, in response to thalidomide sold in Europe] that transformed the FDA into an actual gatekeeper, preventing drugs being marketed unless their safety and efficacy had been proven in tightly constructed clinical trials. I have disagree, considering the many class action lawsuits against BigPharma, and Obama’s EO to fast-track ‘breakthrough drugs’, but that’s a longer story. And yet, the FDA has waged heavy campaigns to prevent the sale of various natural health products, but have refused to ban glyphosate in the food we eat; go figure.
“Instead of relying primarily on randomized clinical trials, the gold standard for determining drug safety and efficacy, the Act requires the FDA to consider “real world evidence,” such as anecdotal observations of patient outcomes.
“The Cures Act also weakens the already lax regulations governing medical devices. It requires FDA employees to only ask for the minimum possible amount of information when approving new medical devices, eases the FDA’s authority to regulate combination drug/device products, and provides an overly broad category of “breakthrough” devices.
““If the 21st Century Cures Act is passed as written, clinicians could be given potentially deadly drugs and devices to prescribe to their patients, blessed by this new version of FDA approval,” (said Johns Hopkins medical doctors Reshma Ramachandran and Zackary Berger).”
Also from wsws: ‘To target China, US further enhances military-strategic alliance with India’, Keith Jones, 15 December 2016
“The dying days of the Obama administration have seen a concerted, bi-partisan drive by the Washington political establishment and the Pentagon to further cement the Indo-US “global strategic partnership.”
Because of its size, proximity to China, commanding geographic position within the Indian Ocean region, and rapidly expanding military power and ambitions, India has long been viewed by the strategists of US imperialism as a key element in Washington’s military-strategic offensive against China.
Under Obama—particularly in the two-and-a-half years since Narendra Modi and his Hindu-supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in New Delhi—Washington has gone a long way to transforming India into a “frontline” state in its confrontation with China.
In August, India allowed US warplanes and battleships to begin making routine use of its military bases and ports for resupply, repair, and rest. The Modi government has adopted the US stance on the South China Sea, parroting Washington’s claims that China is threatening “freedom of the seas and overflight,” and it has dramatically increased Indian bilateral and trilateral cooperation with Japan and Australia, the principal US allies in the Asia-Pacific.”
Well, yes; we’d noticed. But the recent ‘good news’ is that Jones writes that SecDef Ash Carter traveled to Delhi last week to finalize a deal that designates India as a “Major Defense Partner” of the US, and reportedly gives India the right to buy advanced weapons and weapons systems in the same way that NATO members and a few others can. Both Carter and his counterpart in India say that this designation is ‘unique to India’, and that he’d met with Parrikar seven times now.
It’s a win-win scenario, see:
“The joint statement also emphasized the “tremendous progress” made in implementing the Indo-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), under which the US is working to co-produce and even co-develop advanced weapons and weapon systems in India.
The Modi government, which has ambitions for India to become a major arms exporter, has promoted the DTTI as an important part of its “Make in India” initiative, which aims to rapidly grow India’s manufacturing sector.
The Obama administration views arms sales to India as a key means of harnessing India to its predatory strategic objectives by making it dependent on US weaponry, promoting Indo-US military inter-operability, and weaning New Delhi away from its traditional ally and principal arms-supplier, Russia. It is also eager to boost the bottom line of American weapons manufacturers.”
In fact, he writes, the 2017 NDAA actually contains a section titled ““Enhancing defence and security cooperation with India” that instructs the administration to designate a high-level official to ensure the success of the DDTI because: pivot to Asia and protecting US US “interests in South Asia” and the “greater Indo-Asia-Pacific regions.”
How kind of Congress to pave the way for a more bellicose anti-China Trump presidency, don’t you think? Of course, even prior to Trump, John Pilger had created his documentary ‘The Coming War on China – a film by John Pilger’ (the trailer)
Jones ends with a long narrative on this recent history:
“The bipartisan push to strengthen the US strategic-military alliance with India comes in the midst of a war crisis between India and Pakistan that has brought South Asia’s rival nuclear-armed states to the brink of war.”
He also writes that in his efforts to prove the immense value of a US/Indio alliance, the Obama administration “backed the illegal and highly provocative Indian military strikes inside Pakistan, first implicitly, then explicitly.
Well done! Kashmir: the elephant in the room, situated between two nuclear powers, USA! USA!
ha ha ha; check out his aspirations to True Power™! on edit:
but wth? JIN LIQUN; PRESIDENT, ASIAN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT BANK/CHINA: For orchestrating a new power grab.?
Bonus: Yeah, the Daily Mail’s a rag, but nonetheless they gave Craig Murray a chance to ramp up his claims another notch, brave, foolish, or just woofin’, you decide:
“Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,’ Murray said. ‘The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.’ He said the leakers were motivated by ‘disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.’
Murray said he retrieved the package from a source during a clandestine meeting in a wooded area near American University, in northwest D.C. He said the individual he met with was not the original person who obtained the information, but an intermediary.
Murray said he was speaking out due to claims from intelligence officials that Wikileaks was given the documents by Russian hackers as part of an effort to help Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential election.
‘I don’t understand why the CIA would say the information came from Russian hackers when they must know that isn’t true,’ he said. ‘Regardless of whether the Russians hacked into the DNC, the documents Wikileaks published did not come from that.’”
Related: via email from Anthony Freda:
“The self-appointed Ministry of Truth is compiling blacklists of forbidden media and promoting officially sanctioned propaganda.
The corrupt establishment is taking lessons from every totalitarian state in history in the guise of democracy and freedom. They hate democracy and are enemies of the free press.
The purveyors of the most dangerous corporate and state sponsored fake news are on a witch hunt to demonize and censor investigative journalists and whistleblowers who expose the lies and crimes of the corrupt institutions sponsoring the mainstream media”, etc. They are the #FakeNews and we all know it.”