The cost of medicine is exploding. The U.K. is no exception compared to what is happening round the globe.
As the NHS is struggling to keep expenses under control, providing substitute generic medication instead of costly branded medication is a way to put some relieve on the rising unbudgeted pressure.
But are generic medicines as good as promised? This question is increasingly important since prices of generic medicine are now on the rise as well and an American journalist made some shocking revelations.
Branded medicines are medicines mostly marketed under the name given by the company that developed them. Generic medicines are often copies produced in countries with low labor cost.
As protection rights after 20 years expire, companies and pharmacists are free to copy medicine. They can manufacture and sell the medication under its own generic name mostly at a lower price.
In 2016 and 2017, the NHS spent over £4.3 billion on generic medicines. This is more than 28% of total medicine expenditure.
As the cost of branded medication soars, generic low cost alternatives are increasingly popular.
But according to Katherine Eban, an American journalist who wrote the book “Bottle of Lies”, generic medication might not be as safe and effective as we generally believe.
Mrs. Eban investigated the pharmaceutical industry for a decade and focused on generic medication produced in the Far East and sold in the U.S.
She came to the appalling conclusion that at least the American Food and Drug administration, was misled and manipulated. Plant owners in India and China cheated FDA inspectors many times.
She revealed that it is very easy to manipulate data.
Weeks in advance, overseas companies in the Far East producing the generic medication get an announcement of scheduled inspections.
Thanks to this information, plants in China and India are well informed that the FDA inspectors are coming.
This allows factories where the substitute generic medication is made, manipulate data and results.
In her book she writes: “I discovered overseas drug companies that altered documents, shred them, invent them and in some cases even steaming them overnight to create the impression that they are old”
The FDA dismisses claims that it is easy to mislead. “We conducted a number of unannounced inspections at foreign plants over the past several years”
But Mrs. Eban is convinced that in some cases, at least in the U.S. generic medicine becomes available without proper vetting.
She says that the FDA is overwhelmed and under resourced in its duty to ensure the safety of overseas drug production.
She also produced evidence about inspectors that were poisoned with contaminated drinking water to undermine inspections.
Mrs. Eban: “The investigators were poisoned in the course of their inspections with tainted water from the tap, which you can’t drink in India. They felt sick during inspections. I mean, this was a way of running out the clock”
In one instance, an investigator had his hotel room bugged.
In other cases manufacturers tried to scan passenger lists in airports to try to determine exactly who was coming and when. There were elaborate measures that the plants took to try to protect against bad inspections.
The United States warned the UK not allowing Huawei to build the new 5G network. 5G by Huawei would be a fatal mistake putting the special relationship between the two countries at risk.
The US has many activities over here, intelligence and military bases included.
Britain plays also an important role in the Five Eyes network, a secretive global intelligence network formed in the aftermath of World War II. The objective is to share intelligence data between the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
Despite the US intelligence and military has their own worldwide communication networks, the US government considers Huawei dominated technical infrastructures in countries as the UK an unacceptable risk.
It is feared that the Chinese manipulate highly advanced computer and telecommunications firmware to steal sophisticated data from governments and high tech companies.
The warning from the Americans comes at a very bad moment. After leaving the EU, regarding trade relations, the US is one of the last resorts the UK can bank on.
In a statement during a speech to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US has an obligation to ensure that the places they are operating, the places where American information is, and the places where the US is subject to a national security risk that all operations are inside trusted networks. Pompeo: “We don’t believe you can have those technologies in your systems and still have a trusted network
For the UK there is too much at stake (security and trade). Bearing this in mind it is believed Britain will do its utmost to avoid making the wrong decision and assuage US security fears.
UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt responded that the UK will never take a decision that compromises the country’s ability to share intelligence with the so called “Five Eyes” colleagues, particularly the US.
As the world lithium resources are not endless and fossil fuel is fading away, scientists are working in overdrive mode to improve hydrogen fuel as the near future power source for electric cars.
A major problem with hydrogen is to overcome the limited efficiency of the current storage models.
Now it looks like scientists at the University of Michigan made a huge step forward in solving this boundary.
The researchers discovered a way to scram a significantly increased amount of hydrogen into smaller storage structures.
Metal-organic frameworks, with a high energy density, make it visible to store a large amount of hydrogen on board.
This opens the door to a further extension of the hydrogen vehicle driving range.
The future looks bright for hydrogen powered cars since we are talking about a zero emission power source that emits water only. Hydrogen is far more common as lithium is. Chances are zero that there ever will be a supply issue
But there are still some frontiers to overcome.
Another question to overcome is how to get hydrogen at the gas station. Should we transport hydrogen in a liquid form in trucks or through a pipeline system.
It is without any doubt that the next generation electric vehicles will not be powered by batteries but hydrogen instead.
Scientists are convinced that the performance of lithium ion batteries is already at a maximum. They assume we are on the ceiling of what batteries can deliver.
Therefore we should refrain from battery technology the soonest.
Worldwide, a growing number of fire incidents with electric vehicles are reported. The high voltage technology, continuously present through the -always on- batteries, makes assistance during accidents on the road and even in the parking mode a risky operation.
The limited mileage and not to forget the eyebrow raising environmental issues that come with the production of the very toxic lithium ion batteries are pushing carmakers and scientists over new frontiers.
It is impossible to power all cars around the globe with lithium ion batteries. This will cause an environmental disaster of unseen proportions.
Not to forget that power grid operators are warning they cannot deliver as the infra structure in America and Europe is not ready for massive demand. It is an illusion that this issue can be addressed within a visible time frame. At least not in the next decades.
While time is running out for fossil fuels and lithium as well, the solution is Hydrogen as power source to replace battery technology.
It’s not CO2 but a looming shortage of fossil fuel. Last week it emerged that the output of Saudi Arabia’s largest oil fields has, again, dropped significantly.
CO2 levels in the atmosphere are not dangerously high at all.
Companies extracting carbon from the air to turn into oil and other products are struggling because of – as they complain- the comparatively low concentrations of CO2 in the air make it difficult to design efficient machines to remove the gas.
Unmistakably, we should save the last oil resources in this world for other purposes instead of bluntly burning it.
BMW as well as American and Japanese carmakers believe in hydrogen as power source. They are convinced that it is not “if” but “when” the hydrogen powered electric car will replace the current fossil fuel and battery powered vehicles.
On the very day Britain originally should say goodbye to the EU, big disappointment. Brexit is not happening; on the contrary in a complete deadlock situation.
Today, for the third time in a row, members of Parliament rejected the withdrawal agreement now plunging the country in nothing less as a constitutional crisis and leaving voters in limbo.
The government lost again with 58 votes short to get the withdrawal deal, at least partially, passed.
If -at least on the short term, a hard Brexit is very unlikely, the U.K. is unavoidably heading for another humiliation; participating in the elections for a new European Parliament in May.
Furious Brexiteers gathered outside Parliament to protest against the day by day diminishing chances of leaving the EU. Some protesters were arrested.
The economic and financial damage is mounting day by day.
The PM has now until April 12th to decide what to do and possibly ask in Brussels for an extension of the negotiating process. In the meanwhile, chances are materializing that Britain will be forced to organize General Elections for the European Parliament as Brexit is fading away.
Another route is the no deal scenario. Possible, but still unlikely.
Awaiting next week further votes on proposals in Parliament, for now we can conclude that, so far, democracy has failed.
Whether it is unclear Brexit will ever happen at all, the British economy is already suffering Hugh financial losses.
Many large companies already left the country and financial experts warn companies to remove all financial assets from the U.K.
Not to mention the fleeing EU workforce as more and more workers from outside Britain leaving the UK in chaos behind.
Continuity of the NHS workforce is seriously compromised as many employees quit their jobs and go back to Europe. Similar problems at many other institutions and companies as the workforce disappears in thin air.
I am not surprised that earlier this week the PM lost her voice. The ongoing Brexit circus is taking its toll. Every GP can confirm that stress is a very bad thing for your immune system.
It is not about capital leaving the country only. Millions of Brexit pounds spend by the government already went down the drain. Money spend on malicious advisors and -not to forget- a so call ferry company that –in case of a no deal- should assist carrying goods but had no experience at all.
Most surprising is the timing of the legal advice to parliament that happened AFTER renewed negations. Wouldn’t it be better to send experienced legal advisors with Mrs. May on her EU visits?
Mrs. May keeps on trying to persuade MP’s. Next week for the third time in a row. She warns that another defeat can lead to a very long Brexit delay and probably end up in no Brexit at all.
It is always easy to join the party. Now we face reality and become aware how difficult it is to unwind the EU relationship. Let me warn other EU countries that the EU is like a sect; almost impossible to escape.
I believe this great country should take the (temporarily) pain for granted and leave without a deal. The self-healing capacity of Britain is enormous.