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Business Insider – Politics

  • The 10 most important things in the world right now
    (Politics - August 30 2016 - 5:03 AM:)
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    A man swipes grease after slipping off the

    Hello! Here's what you need to know on Tuesday.

    1. A diplomat said that triggering Article 50 will be like turning the engines off on an airplane. When Britain makes its exit move - by invoking Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty - it will set the clock running on a two-year deadline to leave the EU. 

    2. Gene Wilder, the legendary comic actor of "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," "Young Frankenstein," and "Blazing Saddles," has died at age 83. The two-time Oscar nominee also starred in four films alongside stand-up icon Richard Pryor.

    3. The UN has paid tens of millions to the Assad regime under its Syria aid programme. The UN says it can only work with a small number of partners approved by President Assad and that it does all it can to ensure the money is spent properly.

    4. North Korea publicly executed two officials in early August for disobeying leader Kim Jong Un. Kim took power in 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, and his consolidation of power has included purges and executions of top officials.

    5. Europe to hit Apple with its 'largest tax penalty' ever. Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner, has distributed a 130-page judgment on Apple's Ireland operations, ahead of an official ruling on Apple's tax structure expected on Tuesday.

    6. Around 6,500 migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya, the Italian coastguard said, in one of its busiest days of life-saving in recent years. A five-day-old baby was among those rescued along with other infants and was airlifted to an Italian hospital.

    7. China will crack down on social and entertainment news that promotes improper values and "Western lifestyles." President Xi Jinping has embarked on an unprecedented drive to censor media that do not reflect the views of Communist Party leaders.

    8. The Bank of England's chief economist, said owning property is better investment for retirement than paying in to a pension. In an interview with the Sunday Times, Haldane said: “It ought to be pension but it’s almost certainly property,” when answering a question about preparing for retirement.

    9. Apple CEO Tim Cook unlocked 1.26 million shares of Apple stock — worth $135 million — last week as part of a stock-compensation plan enacted when he became CEO in 2011. Nearly 1 million of those shares were earned because Cook lasted five years as Apple CEO.

    10. In a series of tweets on Monday, a former Facebook contractor named Saira Khan shared the 14 "best and most absurd" things she saw while working on the social network's "news team."

    And finally ...

    Goldman Sachs thinks everyone should read these 12 books this fall.

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  • Mylan's releasing a generic version of EpiPen identical to the original — here's what that means (MYL)
    (Politics - August 30 2016 - 4:18 AM:)
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    EpiPen

    When Mylan Pharmaceuticals said Thursday that it would be giving a $300 "savings card" discount to patients buying a two-pack of EpiPens — a prescription with a retail price of around $600 — it didn't do much to fend off ire from politicians and the public.

    So on Monday, the specialty- and generic-drug maker made another $300 move — this time to make an "authorized generic" version of the EpiPen that will cost that amount. It plans to launch the product in "several weeks," depending on when it can whip up the new labels.

    The EpiPen is a device used in emergencies to treat anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can make people go into shock, struggle to breathe, or get a skin rash.

    In 2007, the drug cost about $100. It's since gone up to $608.61, an increase of about 500%. The $300 price for the generic roughly puts it back at the price the drug was at 2013, but still a 200% increase over 2007.

    What exactly is an 'authorized generic'?

    For a set period of time, a drugmaker has the chance to have an exclusive on the market for a drug it developed. But once that time is up, other companies can come in with their competing versions that are virtually identical to the original.

    So authorized generics are basically a drugmaker's way of staying in the game after generic competition comes to the market. The Food and Drug Administration keeps track of all the authorized generics that the makers of original branded products have created.

    The authorized generic is identical to the original drug, but it doesn't come with all the bells and whistles of the branded product. In this case, the pen will be the same, but the packaging might be a different color or carry just the "epinephrine auto-injectors" title.

    This way, Mylan can keep its original list price up on the EpiPen while keeping users who might be deterred by price from going to a competing emergency-epinephrine device. And for those without commercial insurance, this should put the price in line with those paying $300 while using the savings card.

    Generic competition could be here by early 2017

    syringe needle biotechThe EpiPen has positioned itself well as the only game in town. It's become a household name, and the company has disseminated information that makes it relatively easy for anyone to use in an emergency.

    To be sure, competing products have been on the market: One, called Auvi-Q, has been recalled since last October, and the other one, called Adrenaclick, uses a different injection system that makes it a bit more difficult to use, even if it's the cheaper option.

    Other generic versions have not yet been approved by the FDA. Two makers of generic versions received "complete response letters" in the past year, meaning the FDA still has some questions that need to be addressed before it can approve the drug.

    Adamis Pharmaceuticals, a smaller pharmaceutical company with a market cap of $77 million, is one of those coming out with a generic epinephrine device. It hopes that by early 2017, the company's prefilled syringe could be approved as a low-cost alternative to the EpiPen, as long as the company can show the FDA that people know how to use the device.

    Mark Flather, a spokesman for the company, told Business Insider that the company thinks the syringe will be even easier to use than the EpiPen.

    "Our belief is that our device is simpler to use," he said. Unlike an auto-injector pen that comes with a training device, a prefilled syringe should be relatively straightforward to administer, he said.

    Adamis was down about 15% on Monday after surging last week while the EpiPen came under fire.

    SEE ALSO: Congress is going after Mylan

    DON'T MISS: Why a lifesaving drug that's been around since 1923 is still unaffordable

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  • A new investigation tracked every police shooting in Chicago over the last 6 years
    (Politics - August 30 2016 - 2:02 AM:)
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    chicago police

    The Chicago Tribune has compiled a database of every police shooting in Chicago over the last six years, offering insight into police use of deadly force in the city. 

    At the rate the shootings occurred, on average police shot suspects every 5 days.

    The Tribune's analysis examined reports involving police shootings from 2010 through 2015. It found that in the six-year span police were involved in a total of 435 shooting incidents where 170 people were wounded and 92 were killed. 

    High-profile incidents like the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald were just the beginning of the Tribune's analysis.

    Activists have referred to the death of McDonald, a video of which showed Chicago police shooting him 16 times, as one of the worst instances of police brutality they had ever seen in Chicago. 

    Since then, a number of similar incidents involving police in Chicago and other major US cities have prompted a national conversation about police use of lethal force. 

    Here are some of the findings in the Tribune's investigation: 

    • Police fired more than 2,623 bullets over the course of 435 shootings. In a little more than half of those incidents, police hit at least one person. In the other half, officers missed.
    • Approximately 4 out of every 5 people shot by police were African-American males.
    • Approximately half of the officers involved in the shootings were African-American or Hispanic.
    • The officers who discharged their weapons had, on average, nearly 10 years of experience.  
    • 520 officers fired their weapons during the 6 year period. 60 of those officers did so in more than incident. 

     

    In order to obtain the data in the report, the Tribune fought with the police department for seven months over their failure to fufill a Freedom of Information Act request. The department relented when the Tribune threatened to sue.  had to seek legal action despite the fact that information were public records. 

    Data collected during the analysis showed 80 percent of the people shot by the Chicago Police Department during the six-year period were African American, 14 percent were Hispanic and less than 6 percent were white, the Tribune found.

    Officers who shot suspects often cited that they feared for their life. In about 60 percent of the shootings officers said suspects pointed weapons at them or made suspicious movements to justify the shootings, the report said. 

    "As a police officer, you don't wait for the shot to come in your direction," Dean Angelo Sr., president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, told the Tribune. "You might not get a chance to return fire."

    While the number of police shootings declined from more than 100 in 2011 to 44 in 2015, data indicated that Chicago’s police shootings still outnumbered cities like Los Angeles, New York, Houston, and Philadelphia. 

    According to the report, officer-involved shootings primarily occurred in areas on the South and West sides of Chicago where crime is prevalent. 

    Chicago police have denied allegations of unfairly targeting minorities and made correlations to shootings in high-crime areas that have predominately African-American populations.

    "When you look at the map, 80 percent of narcotics arrests, gun arrests and gang arrests happen in these poor areas," Angelo said.

    "Where you've got dope, you've got guns. It's not about ethnicity — it's about criminal involvement."

    Although no national database of police shootings exists, The Washington Post has compiled its own that shows a total of 990 people have been killed by police in the US this year. 

    You can read the full Tribune report here»

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  • An economist figured out how much Hillary Clinton's plan to save the world from runaway climate change would actually cost
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 11:34 PM:)
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    Smoke billows from a controlled burn of spilled oil off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico coast line June 13, 2010.  REUTERS/Sean Gardner

    Our climate is changing. There's no scientific debate about this.

    In fact, in 2016 — decades after scientists first warned of the sharp changes necessary to stop global warming — it's more accurate to say that our climate has changed.

    "There's no stopping global warming," Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist who is the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, recently told my colleague, Sarah Kramer. "Everything that's happened so far is baked into the system."

    At this point, the real question is: What are we going to do about it?

    Hillary Clinton, the person who appears most likely to become our next president, has adopted a plan to reduce US emissions — the heat-trapping gases we pump into the air when we generate power — 80% by 2050 into her campaign platform. The Obama administration made it the country's stated aspiration at the 2016 international Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

    So that raises a second question: Is this something we could actually pull off in the next 34 years?

    In public policy, a good way to answer that question is to ask if we could afford it. Geoffrey Heal, a Columbia University environmental economist, recently published a paper examining what it would actually cost to meet that target.

    Here's what he found.

    There are limits to our ability to predict the future

    us wind farm texasThe big headline number from Heal's paper is $42 billion to $176 billion per year every year between now and 2050.

    That's not an exact figure plucked from a crystal ball, Heal told Business Insider, but more of a "rough estimate," or a figure that's in the right order of magnitude but "not claiming to be correct to three significant figures or anything like that."

    Still, it's a useful measure for thinking about Clinton's target, said Heal. And to get there, he relied on a few assumptions:

    • Solar and wind energy will drive the vast majority of the shift to emissions-free energy.
    • Those technologies will improve and grow cheaper in predictable ways.
    • No major new technologies will upend the energy market in the next few decades.

    In the best-case scenario, Heal found that the US could probably wring an 80% drop in emissions out of about $1.28 trillion over the course of 34 years. In the worst case scenario, about $5.28 trillion.

    Those numbers include the costs of the photovoltaic panels, molten salt towers, and wind farms necessary to generate enough clean energy to cover two-thirds of total US demand. But they also factor in the giant batteries and high-voltage interstate power lines that Heal said would also be necessary to help the country cope with a shift to power sources that generate energy only some of the time.

    So is that a lot of money?

    hunt for red october

    When Heal set out to arrive at his figure, he wasn't sure what he'd find.

    "I was genuinely curious whether this would be a financial ruinous proposition or whether it would be something we could live with," Heal said.

    All told, $1.28 trillion, or $42 billion per year, would make an 80% emissions reduction about 33% more expensive than the war in Afghanistan — though spread over more than twice as much time — but just two-thirds of the cost of the war in Iraq. By another measure: about 12 Apollo programs or two 2008 TARP bank bailouts.

    That places the goal squarely in the territory of things the US could achieve, given enough political will. Still, it would definitely be limited to the just-a-few-times-a-century category, said Heal.

    But let's say that things go another way, and the final cost looks more like the $5.28 trillion — $176 billion per year — that Heal projects at the high end. Now we're talking about a project 25% more expensive than defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan — though, again, spread out over a much longer period — or 2 1/2 Iraq Wars.

    A better way to think about this, though, is in annual terms. Right now, yearly GDP in the US is about $18.4 trillion. Everything we know about finance and history tells us that that number will grow significantly in the next 34 years. But right now, a $42 billion annual program would be about 0.2% of GDP. And a $176 billion annual program would cost about 1% of GDP.

    That places the annual cost of an 80% emissions reduction somewhere between two NASAs and the US Air Force.

    So is that a lot of money?

    "I guess the conclusion that I've come to is that it's expensive but not ruinous," Heal said.

    Most of the spending would come from private investors

    It's important to understand here that when Heal talks about the cost of the 80% reduction, he's not talking about tax dollars.

    "This is not something the government can do," Heal said. "This is private sector investment in infrastructure, basically."

    Historically, the role of government has been to wield carrots and sticks. Most of these lie in the tax code, and have been shown to be fairly effective in guiding investors to projects the government is excited about.

    Credits for producing renewable energy or buying electric cars would fall into the carrot category, explained Heal. Sticks would look like a carbon tax or massive hike to the gasoline tax.

    Whether or not the plan succeeds, we're likely to see the creation of a major new American industry

    Tesla PowerwallIn Heal's calculations, the most significant variable was energy storage.

    That's because solar and wind, the likely sources of clean energy in a low-emission America, rely on intermittent power sources. That's a fancy way of saying that sometimes it's nighttime or not very windy out.

    Right now, the grid mostly solves this problem by importing traditional power to fill in the gaps left by solar and wind production. But if you're trying to go really clean, said Heal, then that's not an option.

    So a national low-emissions energy grid would need to do two things well:

    • Move electricity over vast distances, so that if one state has a low-energy day, then another can lend a hand.
    • Store surplus power generated on good days to fill in the gaps on bad ones.

    The first problem is fairly simple to solve, Heal said. Right now, the US grid is actually lots of little grids. But linking them up is mostly a matter of laying some high-voltage power lines. Not cheap, but a fairly straightforward upgrade to make to our existing infrastructure.

    The second problem, though, is more complicated. We don't yet know how much power a national clean-energy grid could put out in a day, or how reliably long-distance sharing can make up for local shortfalls. That means we have very little idea how much power we have to sock away on good days to prepare for slow ones in a clean grid, said Heal.

    "It's something we just haven't thought about because it hasn't been that relevant until now," Heal said.

    For purposes of his calculations, Heal assumed that we'll need the capacity to store about two days' of renewable power.

    "This figure has no rigorous scientific basis," he wrote in the paper, "but seems to pass a 'laugh test.'"

    Storage raises a second, technological question.

    Right now our best large-scale, long-term power-storage option is pretty crude: We can pump vast amounts of water up a hill on a good day, and then let it run downhill on a bad day to turn a hydroelectric turbine.

    But Heal writes that most of the good sites for this method are already in use, and can store only a fraction of the total energy we'll need. Home batteries from companies like Tesla and Mercedes-Benz can handle a bit more of the load, but it looks like we're going to need massive, grid-scale batteries to get a clean power system working around the clock.

    The thing is, these don't exist yet. No one yet knows how much they'll cost, which battery technologies they'll use, or who will build them.

    We do know that they're likely to become a major industry, though. Depending on the amount of storage we end up needing and the technologies involved, Heal estimates that we'll spend between $2.2 trillion and $5.1 trillion on these monsters over the next 34 years.

    On the plus side, we'll save about $960 billion on fuel, which is why the final price tag of a clean grid is so much lower.

    It might be time to think about nuclear again

    nuclear power station in france

    One interesting finding from Heal's calculations is that the cheapest route to an 80% lower-emissions electric grid might involve nuclear power.

    Though nuclear power plants have a scary reputation, they emit only water vapor. And they work round the clock, regardless of weather. With enough new facilities, Heal found that we'd need to replace only about half of US power generation with wind and solar rather than two-thirds, and the cost of storage would drop significantly.

    "That was a calculation I found surprising," Heal said, "because nuclear is something that's regarded as very expensive and it's effectively priced itself out of the market these days."

    Though nuclear power plants provide about 20% of US electricity, the last one to come online in the US was Tennessee's Watts Bar facility in 1996. Early preparations for Watts Bar 2 began this year. At the same time, as many as 20 aging plants could shut down in the next decade.

    The Obama administration has broadly signaled its support for nuclear. But the politics of fission power are dicey at best, and it's easy to imagine a major nuclear power push struggling to get off the ground.

    Heal's calculations may miss a key variable

    Clouds pass over Capitol Hill in Washington August 1, 2011. Congressional leaders scrambled to line up Republican and Democratic votes for a White House House-backed deal to raise the borrowing limit and avert an unprecedented debt default.     REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    Economists are good at making judgments about cost and efficiency, but struggle to account for squishy human foibles like politics and short-term thinking.

    Heal's paper assumes that society will work in a concerted, directed way to address climate change. That, for example, people will continue to move toward electric cars even if gas prices remain under $3 a gallon.

    This isn't always how things work.

    Myron Ebell, an energy and environmental policy analyst — and avowed climate-science skeptic — with the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank, said that a program on the scale Heal envisions would struggle to get off the ground.

    "I think Obama has gone about as far as you can go in terms of twisting the current regulatory structure to try to do things," Ebell said. "At some point Congress would have to vote for this kind of program, and I think it's a long way in the future if at all. I have my doubts that it will ever happen, but right now you can say it's several Congresses away."

    Ebell said that political "friction" — from opponents ranging from national lawmakers to local landowners objecting to power lines and windmills — will likely add costs at every stage of a major national-energy overhaul.

    Heal agrees that politics and planning could be a major hurdle.

    "I don't think anyone has thought through in any detail what it would take to mobilize the amount of money that we're talking about here," he said.

    "It's a question of providing a structure through which [investors] feel comfortable making these commitments, because they're huge commitments ... We'd need a carefully thought-out policy, establishing some clear expectation of continuity in the field over quite a long period of time."

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  • EpiPen isn't the only emergency medicine skyrocketing in price
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 11:10 PM:)
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    Naloxone

    The EpiPen and its maker, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, have been all over the news as of late.

    Its price — which has gone from $93.88 to $608.61 since 2007 — has sparked outrage from a number of members of Congress, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and the general public.

    But price hikes on crucial emergency medicine go far beyond the EpiPen.

    Naloxone, a drug that instantly reverses opioid overdoses, has been skyrocketing in price for years. And Mylan, the company behind the EpiPen, is involved in the naloxone price hikes as well.

    Frequently referred to as an "antidote" for opioid overdoses, naloxone has seen drastic price increases in recent years, according to information provided by Truven Health Analytics, a healthcare-analytics company. A popular injectable version of the drug has gone from $0.92 a dose to more than $15 a dose over the last decade. An auto-injector version is up to more than $2,000 a dose.

    A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January revealed that drug-overdose deaths reached a new high in 2014, totaling 47,055 people. Opioids were involved in 60% of those deaths.

    On the market since 1971, naloxone works by blocking opioid drugs from interacting with the brain's receptors, counteracting the drugs' dangerous side effects, like slow respiration, coma, and death, during an overdose. The drug almost instantly pulls an overdose victim back to sobriety and has only minor side effects for opioid users — and almost none if mistakenly administered to patients not suffering an overdose.

    The price increases, however, have made affording the drug difficult for community organizations, which provide naloxone for free to drug users, their family members, and other nonmedical personnel.

    These organizations, along with pharmacies, public-health departments, and substance-use treatment facilities, prevented more than 26,000 overdoses from 1996 to June 2014 by providing naloxone, according to a survey of 136 such organizations conducted by the Harm Reduction Coalition, a national advocacy group. That number is also likely lower than the actual number of overdoses prevented, according to the survey.

    We're not talking about a limited commodity.

    Many see the drug's price hikes as unwarranted and are frustrated with the lack of access.

    "We're not talking about a limited commodity. Naloxone is a medicine that is almost as cheap as sterile sodium chloride — salt water," Dan Bigg, the executive director of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, an outreach organization that has been providing naloxone to drug users for nearly 20 years, told Business Insider.

    In June, Sens. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, and Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, sent a letter to the five pharmaceutical companies that produce naloxone — Amphastar, Pfizer, Adapt, Kaléo, and Mylan — asking for an explanation of the recent price changes.

    "At the same time this epidemic is killing tens of thousands of Americans a year, we're seeing the price of naloxone go up by 1000% or more," McCaskill wrote. "Maybe there's a great reason for the price increases, but given the heart-breaking gravity of this epidemic and the need for this drug, I think we have to demand some answers."

    How much it costs to save a life

    naloxone training overdose

    All five pharmaceutical companies that produce naloxone have seen price hikes in recent years or, for the newer entrants such as Adapt, priced their product far above the industry average several years ago.

    As of January 2015, Amphastar's version of naloxone was up to $41 a dose, according to FiercePharma, a pharmaceutical-industry news site. That follows a price increase from $17 to $33 a dose in October 2014, according to data provided by Truven Health Analytics. In 2001, the price was just $12 a dose.

    As of October 2014 — the most recent time for which prices are available — Hospira's version of naloxone was $15.80 a dose. That's up from $0.92 a dose in 2005, according to Truven Health Analytics. The price of Hospira's version of naloxone hit a peak of $21.90 a dose in January 2014. Pfizer bought Hospira last year.

    Meanwhile, Kaléo has raised the price of its naloxone product, Evzio, several times since last year. In November 2015, the price went up to $375, followed by an increase to $1,875 in February 2016. Since then, the price has been raised to $2,250 for each single-dose injector. Evzio, which is an auto-injector that works like an EpiPen and is specifically created for use by people without medical training, was introduced at $287.50 for each single-dose injector in July 2014, according to Truven.

    Adapt's Narcan, a nasal-spray form of the drug released in February, costs $63 for each single-dose spray unit, though it does sell the product for approximately half that price to government agencies, community organizations, and patients without insurance, Matt Ruth, Adapt's chief commercial officer, told Business Insider.

    Further exacerbating the price problem, according to Bigg, is that most organizations advocate providing overdose victims with multiple doses of naloxone because opioid drugs last longer than naloxone. Such a practice is necessary for safety, but means that these prices give only a partial picture of how difficult it is to fund such a program.

    The price increases, combined with the increase in demand, have caused sales of naloxone to jump from $21.3 million in 2011 to $81.9 million last year, according to numbers from prescription-tracking company IMS Health and cited by the Los Angeles Times.

    Amphastar, one of the two producers of the lower-priced injectable naloxone, saw a revenue increase of 4% in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the first quarter of 2015, according to a press release. The company attributed that increase largely "to an increase in sales of naloxone to $10.3 million from $6.7 million."

    All prices stem from purchasing directly from the manufacturer, not the list price, which is higher because of distributor markup. The list price is paid primarily by consumers buying naloxone without a prescription.

    The source of the increases

    PricetrendFDA

    According to Bigg, while price increases have been consistent for 20 years, the price hikes jumped in frequency and volume in 2008 after several manufacturers stopped producing the drug, leaving Hospira and Amphastar as the sole manufacturers of naloxone.

    Mylan and Kaléo introduced naloxone products in 2014, and Adapt followed at the beginning of 2016.

    Only Mylan, Amphastar, and Hospira, however, make injectable versions — by far the cheapest forms of the drug. Adapt and Kaléo make the more expensive nasal spray and auto-injector, respectively.

    Bigg says that the limited number of producers has kept the price high and increasing.

    But some think that the price hikes are a response to a big uptick in demand and point to new laws and programs designed to equip police officers and first responders with naloxone, as well as increase access for the general public.

    "Naloxone used to be an item purchased by emergency rooms and ambulances ... Now that harm-reduction organizations have pushed for laws requiring everyone to carry it, the demand has gone up exponentially," Tessie Castillo, the advocacy and communication coordinator at the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, told Business Insider. Pharmaceutical companies "know that they can make more money because of the demand, so they try to."

    Over the last couple of years, more than 30 states have acted to increase naloxone access, prescriptions, and use. In 2014, then US Attorney General Eric Holder urged federal law-enforcement agencies to train and equip personnel with naloxone. Such laws and policies were pushed by organizations like Castillo's.

    Daniel Raymond, the policy director of the Harm Reduction Coalition, told Business Insider that his organization has noticed increases in the price of naloxone in recent months, but he said that he's skeptical that pharmaceutical companies were "profiteering" off of the opioid crisis.

    Instead, he attributed the increase to broader dynamics "playing out across the pharmaceutical spectrum."

    "If naloxone was the only pharmaceutical product that was seeing price increases, I would be very suspicious," Raymond said. "But because this is playing out across the sector ... it's part of a larger trend that the whole healthcare industry and policymakers are struggling to get a handle on."

    A US Food and Drug Administration analysis of the naloxone market in 2015 attributed the price increase to a general trend across the pharmaceutical industry for generic injectable medicines.

    Big Pharma's response

    Naloxone

    While a statement from Pfizer, on behalf of Hospira, did not respond directly to questions about recent price increases, the company emphasized that it believes it has priced naloxone "responsibly," taking into consideration "sensitivity to the need for the product" and "the investments necessary to produce high-quality generic drugs as well as ensure appropriate distribution through licensed medical professionals."

    The company further touted its commitment to the naloxone market after other manufacturers ceased production.

    Amphastar raised the price of its naloxone product because of rising manufacturing costs and investments made in developing its own intranasal naloxone product, Bill Peters, the company's chief financial officer, told the Los Angeles Times.

    Kaléo points to the ease of use of its product, the Evzio auto-injector, as justification for its high price. Evzio's auto-injection system provides "voice and visual instruction" to aid administration in an emergency.

    "The price of Evzio is reflective of its innovation, years of extensive research to ensure the device is easy to use and reliable and to ensure the broadest access to this potentially life-saving product," Kaléo spokesman Lora Grassilli said in a statement.

    She added that Evzio is the first FDA-approved naloxone product specifically created for those without medical training.

    Ruth, the chief commercial officer for Adapt, told Business Insider that Adapt researched the market before setting the price of its Narcan nasal spray in February, which he says has been "well received so far." Ruth further pointed to Adapt's awareness and access initiatives as reasons for Narcan's higher price point.

    "Those initiatives aren't free," Ruth said. "We are looking to do this as efficiently as possible and charge an affordable and responsible rate for patients and organizations alike. We believe we've done that."

    Both products are increasingly being pushed as the naloxone product of choice for police officers and the general public alike.

    While Bigg and Castillo acknowledged that Evzio and Narcan are easier to use than a syringe and vial, both were skeptical that such advancements in delivery justified their considerably higher price tag.

    The Chicago Recovery Alliance staff has been using syringes and vials since its inception, according to Bigg, who said that in 7,500 reports on overdose reversals, they've never had someone tell them that they couldn't or didn't understand how to use the syringe.

    "We've had no problems with syringes. The syringes are really self-explanatory," Castillo said.

    Amphastar has responded to the criticism over naloxone pricing through "increased discounting and rebates." In an Amphastar press release on 2016's first-quarter financials, the company noted that naloxone pricing was down compared with the previous quarter.

    Increasing access to many, but not all

    naloxone training overdose

    Many large organizations like the Chicago Recovery Alliance and government agencies have been insulated to some extent from the rising prices, thanks to special discounts and donations from naloxone producers as well as grants to pay for such products.

    Kaléo, for example, has donated 150,000 Evzio auto-injectors to first responders, public-health departments, and nonprofits since the product's approval in April 2014.

    In January, Adapt announced a program in partnership with the Clinton Foundation to provide a free carton of Narcan to any high school in the US that asks for it. Adapt has also donated 50,000 doses of Narcan to various organizations.

    Bigg and Castillo said that their organizations, which provide naloxone to those in need for free, would not be able to exist without such generosity on the part of pharmaceutical companies. According to Bigg, many police departments have money to pay for naloxone because of asset seizures, which confiscate the alleged proceeds or instruments related to crime. Many federal, state, and local government agencies have also been given grants to pay for naloxone.

    While these measures have generally increased the availability of naloxone, Castillo says that the result is that those hardest hit by the high prices are smaller harm-reduction organizations or community programs that don't have the clout of larger government agencies or the renown of a large nonprofit like the Harm Reduction Coalition.

    Castillo says that she has spoken to "lots and lots" of organizations and programs that have closed in recent years or failed to get started because of naloxone's high price tag.

    "The companies have been pretty good about providing us with deals and discounts, but that's just to us. That is not a normal experience for most organizations that are trying to buy naloxone," Castillo said.

    That system has left organizations like Castillo's at the mercy of pharmaceutical companies' generosity. When a pharmaceutical company changes policy — such as earlier this year when Kaléo suspended its charitable donations for the year because of "overwhelming demand" — it can be devastating.

    Many of the companies have programs to ensure either lower prices or no cost for patients. Kaléo has a "patient-assistance program" that provides Evzio to people with commercial insurance at no cost. The program allows uninsured people with financial difficulties to request Evzio at no cost.

    Adapt's "public-interest pricing" charges approximately half of its list price to community organizations, police departments, public-health organizations, and those without insurance.

    Numerous solutions to the price problem have been suggested. Bigg believes that making naloxone available over the counter, as is now allowed in numerous states, would encourage more manufacturers to enter the marketplace and drive down the price — an effort applauded by many doctors and pharmacists. In addition, he thinks that once the FDA approves more naloxone products in development, the price should come down as well.

    Castillo called for more consistent and transparent pricing, discounts, and donations for all organizations — government and community — that provide naloxone.

    Raymond suggested that one factor unique to naloxone makes it difficult to rein in the price increases.

    The primary buyers "are all purchasing individually in small amounts so they don't have the leverage to bargain for discounts," Raymond said. He suggested a solution in the form of a bulk-purchasing program that could aggregate demand and push suppliers to drop their prices.

    The demand for naloxone isn't likely to go down anytime soon.

    The law Obama signed on July 22, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, includes measures to make naloxone more readily available to the public, as well as to police officers and first responders.

    Another bill, which Congress is scheduled to vote on in the coming weeks, would push doctors to co-prescribe naloxone with every opioid prescription that they write.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • The most hotly debated policing strategy of the last 20 years is far from finished
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 10:53 PM:)
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    baltimore police

    Calls to reform police departments have echoed across the country with renewed energy in recent years, as cities from New York and Chicago to Baltimore and Milwaukee face increasing pressure to police less aggressively while still keeping a lid on crime rates.

    "Broken Windows," the policing strategy which emphasizes pursuing smaller crimes as a means preventing more serious or violent ones, has received much of the blame for instances of police-related killings and racial profiling, and has largely fallen out of favor among the public and lawmakers alike.

    But although criminal justice experts remain divided on whether the theory is actually an effective crime prevention strategy, they say it’s unlikely that "Broken Windows" is on its way out.

    In the face of renewed criticism, politicians and police departments appear to be shying away rhetorically from the theory, but it’s unclear whether reforms within the departments reflect any significant strategic shift. 

    During a press conference earlier in August announcing New York Police Department commissioner Bill Bratton’s resignation, his successor James O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio touted a strategy termed “neighborhood policing,” and called for officers to spend less time in their cruisers and more time interacting with the communities they patrol.

    That definition doesn’t differ much from the "Broken Windows" approach, according to Peter Moskos, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and former police officer in Baltimore. "Broken Windows" policing has always demanded a high amount of community interaction as it targets neighborhood disorder. But to predominantly African-American neighborhoods already wary of police officers, the rhetorical shift may help reassure residents who fear aggressive police tactics.

    “My guess is that because [O’Neill is] a Bratton protegé, I’m assuming he basically believes what Bratton does in terms of policing. If that’s true, he is going to use ‘neighborhood policing’ as his justification to keep doing 'Broken Windows' — by that name or a different name,” Moskos told Business Insider.

    “To some extent those optics are important.”

    bill bratton bill de blasio NYPD

    Where did "Broken Windows" go astray

    "Broken Windows" was first introduced in a 1982 Atlantic essay by George Kelling and James Q. Wilson. In the essay, Kelling and Wilson call for police to focus on quality-of-life violations and “order maintenance.” They post that preventing order-based crimes such as vandalism or public drinking prevents more serious or violent crimes from occurring by projecting an atmosphere of law and order.

    Kelling has since argued that his theory has been misunderstood by many of the police departments that implemented it.

    “Broken windows was never intended to be a high-arrest program,” he wrote last summer in Politico Magazine. “The goal is to reduce the level of disorder in public spaces so that citizens feel safe, are able to use them, and businesses thrive. Arrest of an offender is supposed to be a last resort — not the first.”

    Instead, "Broken Windows" became the justification for "zero tolerance" policing for many major cities beginning in the 1990s. "Zero tolerance" is the tough-on-crime approach that equates success with arrests. New York, Chicago and other cities' practice of "Stop and Frisk" is frequently associated with "Broken Windows" policing as well. 

    "Broken Windows" was never intended by Kelling and Wilson to result in arrests at every minor infraction, Robert Worden, an associate professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Albany told Business Insider. 

    For better or worse, that is what "Broken Windows" has come to mean for many police reform advocates and the public. 

    A perfect storm for police violence

    milwaukee protest policeIt’s questionable whether "Broken Windows" is relevant to the ongoing national debate about police violence.

    Some criminal justice experts argue that eliminating the theory will do little to lessen the propensity of officer-related violence when lawmakers continue to fall back on policing, rather than political reform, to tackle crime. 

    Alex Vitale, a Brooklyn College sociologist and "Broken Windows" critic, said he has observed few substantial changes in American policing, despite two years of near-constant protests, criticism, and media scrutiny following the widely reported deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York in the summer of 2014. 

    Even after the prolonged public outcry and a rhetorical shift from public officials away from "Broken Windows" policing, "egregious" police killings still regularly appear in news cycles, unlawful arrests continue to occur, and overall incarceration rates haven't dropped in any meaningful way, Vitale told Business Insider.

    Indeed, marijuana arrests in New York City have jumped by a third since last year, according to data published in July by the Police Reform Organizing Project, a police watchdog group. This despite widespread criticism of prosecuting those offenses, even from Brooklyn's District Attorney Ken Thompson. 

    Low-level marijuana arrest are a perfect recipe for instances of police violence, according to Vitale. A person being arrested for a such an offense in the city is highly likely to resent the police officer making the arrest. Should he or she resist, the officer will resort to force — a situation that would be entirely possible to avoid if lawmakers relaxed marijuana laws.

    "Elected leaders have taken more and more social problems and turned them into police problems. The students don't work? Let's not hire more counselors or fund more disciplinary programs, let's just flood the schools with cops. Methamphetamine use is on the increase? Let's not open more drug treatment, let's just massively expand anti-drug policing,” he said

    "Then when the cops have interactions with these people, people resent it. And they resist sometimes. And those encounters escalate."

    'Asking too much of police'

    New York City Police officers (NYPD) stand outside a door to the New York Stock Exchange in New York's financial district February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

    At issue in most communities that use "Broken Windows" policing is the amount of discretion it provides officers.

    Kelling and Wilson’s theory admits there’s no “wholly satisfactory answer” to the question of racial profiling and excessive use of force. The best that can be hoped for is that “by their selection, training, and supervision, the police will be inculcated with a clear sense of the outer limit of their discretionary authority.”

    Minor misbehavior incidents nearly always deserve education, reminders, or warnings instead of arrests, the University of Michigan’s David Thacher argued last year in a Marshall Project op-ed titled “Don’t End Broken Windows Policing, Fix It.”

    “Even in the face of defiance they call for modest sanctions and restraints — citations, court summons and perhaps temporary detention of an unruly drunk on the street rather than a trip to the jail in a patrol car and a permanent misdemeanor record,” Thacher wrote.

    But while criminal justice experts maintain the distinction, officers may not always know where the line is drawn.

    “It is challenging to exercise that discretion in the right way. Officers that are very good at that, who have extremely good judgment, practice 'Broken Windows' policing effectively. Officers whose judgment is less well-developed or who work less at it make a hash of it,” Worden said. 

    “["Broken Windows"] is a fundamentally sound concept, but it can be challenging to implement properly,” he added.

    Not that police departments haven’t tried — programs such as de-escalation, crisis intervention, and implicit bias training are being experimented with around the country. But Vitale said those efforts are futile when officers are still instructed to uphold two priorities that seem fundamentally at odds: combat crime aggressively and reduce use of force.

    Hinging the success of the country’s leading crime-prevention theory to the judgment calls of individual officers is simply asking too much of police, he said.

    “How do you train the police to simultaneously be ready to shoot at any time of a threat, and also to hold off shooting?” he said. “We have to quit expecting policing to be the solution to all of our problems.”

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Trump speaks at a 7th-grade level — here's how other politicians compare
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 10:07 PM:)
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    Donald Trump

    If you've noticed that Donald Trump's speech sounds short and simple, then you're not alone.

    A new report from Quote.com has found that the Republican presidential nominee speaks at a seventh-grade level — lower than many of his political peers.

    Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, delivers speeches at an eighth-grade level, the authors found.

    The report analyzed about 4,000 words per person of public speeches from prominent public figures over the past two years. The authors ran the speeches through six different text-analysis algorithms and averaged the results to calculate the final score for each person. When comparing Trump and Clinton, however, the authors added two algorithms.

    The assessment may actually suggest an improvement for Trump. Similar analyses of Trump's speech from earlier in the campaign season found that the businessman spoke at a fourth- or fifth-grade level.

    trump clinton reading levelBut as the authors of the report note, eloquence is not necessarily an indicator of intelligence. Trump's score puts him in the same company as Oprah Winfrey, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Vice President Joe Biden.

    For comparison, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is scored at an 11th-grade reading level, according to The Boston Globe, while Ernest Hemingway wrote at a level that a fourth-grader can understand.

    Among this election's crop of presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders ranked highest of those analyzed, checking in at a ninth-grade level. Marco Rubio was close behind, averaging between eighth- and ninth-grade. President Barack Obama was found to speak at just under an eighth-grade level, averaging a 7.9.

    Former President George W. Bush, for all his rhetorical shortcomings, scored a reading level grade of 8.7 — the second-highest among politicians analyzed.

    Here's the full breakdown:

    politicians reading level

    Read the full Quote.com report here »

    SEE ALSO: Linguists explain why Sarah Palin has such an emotional connection with her audience

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  • A top Democratic group is testing its 2016 campaign strategy with an eye on 2018 and 2020
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 10:02 PM:)
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    emily's list

    The 2016 election season is in full swing, but groups like Emily's List are already trying out new campaign tactics that they hope will come in handy in 2018 and 2020.

    Last week, the organization, which supports female pro-choice Democratic lawmakers, launched a series of digital ads as part of a major $20 million campaign partnership with Priorities USA, a major super PAC backing Hillary Clinton.

    Aiming to engaging millennials, the group published sponsored posts on BuzzFeed, including a quiz and a series of GIF memes that mock Donald Trump's inflammatory past statements about women and families.

    It was pleased with the posts' performance. A source familiar with the ad metrics told Business Insider that, in the first 48 hours, each post had 11 views for each paid placement, and were viewed organically by 32,000 viewers through shares by different users.

    Both are the first in a series of digital-campaign moves that the group plans to try out in the months leading up to the election. Together, Emily's List and Priorities USA are virtually alone in investing serious resources in sponsored digital content. The two are the only major PACs working on sponsored content with BuzzFeed and Elite Daily, two of the most popular online publishers among millennials.

    The push comes as some Democratic supporters have worried about how to connect with less engaged millennial voters who are not easily reached through traditional television advertising. For its part, the Clinton campaign was particularly dismayed by the relatively lukewarm support for the former secretary of state during the Democratic presidential primary.

    Over the course of the 2016 election, Emily's List has coupled its more traditional advertising with notable online experiments targeting younger, more digitally savvy supporters.

    Earlier this year, the group announced the formation of a "creative council" of high-profile entertainment-industry figures like Lena Dunham and Hollywood mega producer Shonda Rhimes to advise on projects and ads that could appeal to younger voters.

    Emily's List rolled out a batch of fake "texts from Trump" to troll down-ballot Republican candidates like Sens. John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, and Mark Kirk. Throughout the campaign, staffers at the organization have also experimented with tactics on social-media platforms like Snapchat and have granted exclusives to millennial-friendly sites like Refinery29 and Elle.

    The group recognizes that in order to maintain its status as a heavyweight among Democratic voters and supporters in future elections, it needs to engage online.

    Denise Feriozzi, deputy executive director for Emily's List, said that millennial women are a "hugely powerful group of voters," and that the ad campaigns are specifically targeted toward building long-term support through brands and outlets that they identify with.

    "These women don't just have the power to decide this election — they can decide elections for cycles to come. By meeting them where they are, with messengers that they trust, and in a voice that resonates, it's our goal to make sure they know that politics and elections can impact their lives," Feriozzi told Business Insider in a statement.

    She continued: "The work we're doing now will allow us to continue to reach these voters in future election cycles and hopefully encourage more young women to get involved."

    At a private event in New York earlier this year, Jess McIntosh, former vice president of communications for Emily's List, discussed the group's desire to reach new millennial voters and members who consume news and form their political views outside of traditional media.

    "They don't watch MSNBC or 'Morning Joe' or CNN or read Politico," McIntosh said of members it wants to attract.

    Observers note that while Emily's List may be one of the first longtime groups to seriously invest in digital-media experiments, it'll take time to adapt.

    Rep. Katherine Clark won her congressional seat with the help of Emily's List in 2012. While she praised the organization's commitment and weight, she noted that it was experiencing "growing pains" as it attempts to keep up with the rapidly changing campaign landscape, where one successful viral video can eclipse a deluge of paid advertisements.

    "I think that Emily's List is really trying to remain on top of those changes and help candidates navigate their social media and how sort of candidates are perceived, what it means to have media buys in 2016 even compared to when I first ran back in 2008," Clark told Business Insider in an interview earlier this year. "It's a very different world. And I think that's going to be a challenge for Emily's List."

    This post has been updated to clarify the role of Priorities USA in the advertising campaign. Priorities was an equal partner with Emily's List in developing and funding the ad strategy.

    SEE ALSO: How a major Democratic group is deploying celebrities to shape the 2016 race

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  • The government just announced some big changes to try and fix Obamacare
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 9:56 PM:)
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    obama obamacare doctors

    The government is offering some ideas to try and fix the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, amid a series of missteps that have befallen President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement.

    After being dogged by negative news for the last few weeks — from major insurers pulling out of state exchanges to regulators saying that the exchanges are "near collapse" — the US Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a series of changes on Monday to try and correct some of the exchange issues.

    CMS, the division of the US Department of Health and Human Services that oversees the exchanges, proposed tweaks that would make it less risky for insurers in the marketplace to take on sick patients and a number of outreach attempts.

    Two of the biggest problems for the exchanges have been the lack of young people signing up for insurance, which helps offset higher-cost patients, and generally sicker than expected people getting coverage through the exchanges, leading to huge losses for insurers.

    Kevin Counihan, the insurance marketplace CEO at the center, said that these changes would fix a number of issues with the exchanges.

    "These proposed actions and others we have taken over the last six months would help to: support issuers with high-cost enrollees, while updating risk adjustment; strengthen the risk pool; promote additional enrollment; and support issuers in entering the Marketplace or growing their Marketplace business," Counihan wrote in a post summarizing the proposals.

    A few of the 14 total proposals include:

    1. Using some of the fees from the federally funded marketplace for outreach to get more young people to sign up.
    2. Strengthening rules for signing up for insurance outside of the open-enrollment period to ensure that people are not waiting until they are sick to get coverage.
    3. Take prescription-drug use into account when evaluating the risk profile of potential patients. Previously, this had not been taken into account, and insurers argued that it prevented them from getting a full picture of possible patients' health status.
    4. Creating more flexibility for insurers in their bronze plan offerings to reduce cost burdens.

    All of these changes serve as attempts to make it more economically sound for insurance companies to be in the market, to get more people into the exchanges (roughly 10% of Americans are still uncovered), and to eliminate loopholes that allow people to game the exchanges.

    The exchanges are just part of the ACA, and represent only 6% of health-insurance coverage nationwide. But, as one of the signature parts of the law, their survival is a huge deal to the long-term future of the ACA.

    Comments on the proposals close on October 6.

    Check out the full blog post from the CMS on the changes here »

    SEE ALSO: A divisive solution to Obamacare's problems is making a comeback

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  • Fox News rips 'opportunist' ex-anchor Andrea Tantaros in legal motion
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 9:45 PM:)
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    Fox News blasted estranged host Andrea Tantaros in a legal filing Monday afternoon, just hours after she challenged network executives to submit themselves to a lie-detector test.

    “[T]antaros is not a victim; she is an opportunist,” Fox News said in a motion aimed at compelling Tantaros’ claims to arbitration.

    Tantaros, who has not been on the air since April, filed a lawsuit against Fox News and several of the network’s executives last week alleging sexual harassment. In the suit, she called the company a “sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny.”

    Fox News said in its Monday legal motion that her complaint was “filled with falsehoods” and that it “bears all the hallmarks of the ‘wannabe’”:

    “[S]he claims now that she too was victimized by Roger Ailes, when, in fact, contrary to her pleading, she never complained of any such conduct in the course of an investigation months ago. Not to be outdone by anyone, she contends that she was sexually harassed by an ever-shifting collection of employees at Fox News; she charges that outside counsel retained by 21st Century Fox deliberately ignored her purportedly important harassment story (actually, her lawyer, Joseph C. Cane, Jr., failed to return a telephone call from the law firm, Paul Weiss, retained to conduct the investigation); and she claims retaliation even though she concedes that she has not been terminated and remains on Fox News' payroll."

    Judd Burstein, Tantaros’ lawyer, told Business Insider in a statement that the motion "provides more corroboration of Andrea Tantaros' truthful account of the facts."

    Tantaros' lawyer also questioned the network's motion to move to arbitration, asking, "[W]hy do they want this dispute to be resolved in the shadows?" 

    Burstein said that "an innocent person would be so outraged" of being publicly accused of something "he or she would want public vindication" and encouraged the executives to take a lie-detector test as Tantaros suggested earlier in the day.

    "One can also obviously assume that I would not have offered to submit Ms. Tantaros to a lie detector test unless I was sure she would pass,  and that Mr. Shine and the rest of his crew are rejecting our challenge because they know that they would fail," Burstein said.

    The lawyer also said the claim Tantaros' legal representative did not return a phone call back to Weiss was "absolutely false."

    Tantaros’ explosive allegations came on the heels of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson. That suit ultimately led to the resignation of Roger Ailes, who had served as the network’s chief executive since its founding in 1996.

    SEE ALSO: Fox News is a 'sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult,' ex-personality Andrea Tantaros alleges in lawsuit

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    NOW WATCH: Trump spokeswoman: Capt. Khan's 2004 death was probably caused by Obama's and Hillary's policies

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  • Trump on Kaepernick: 'Maybe he should find a country that works better for him'
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 9:37 PM:)
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    Colin Kaepernick

    Republican nominee Donald Trump ripped San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Monday after the NFL player's decision to sit during the national anthem before a recent preseason game.

    The Manhattan billionaire was asked about the Kaepernick controversy during a radio interview with KIRO's Dori Monson ahead of a rally Trump is holding on Tuesday in Everett, Washington.

    "I have followed it and I think it’s personally not a good thing, I think it’s a terrible thing," Trump said. "And maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try. It won’t happen."

    Kaepernick sat in protest during the national anthem ahead of the 49ers Friday game against the Green Bay Packers, later saying he's "not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

    The quarterback, who started in Super Bowl XLVII for the 49ers, said he plans on continuing to sit during the national anthem in future games. He was also sharply critical of both Trump and Clinton, saying that both are inadequate of the presidency.

    Kaepernick has a long history of advocating for social justice online, although his prior posts did not garner the attention that his Friday decision did. 

    SEE ALSO: Donald Trump is gaining on Hillary Clinton in 3 of the most important states

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  • ANN COULTER: Here’s why Trump doesn’t have higher favorability ratings
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 9:28 PM:)
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    Ann Coulter gives her two cents on why Donald Trump isn't more popular despite his populist stances.

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  • The state with the highest teenage birth rate now requires public colleges teach students how to avoid pregnancy
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 9:22 PM:)
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    condom

    Public colleges and universities in Arkansas are starting to unveil their state-mandated plans to prevent unplanned pregnancies, NPR reported.

    A powerful video, for example, emerged at Arkansas Tech University, one that every freshman is required to watch. Produced by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, it features men and women who had teenage pregnancies describe the unwanted consequences of having children too young.

    "I wanted to be a surgeon," one young woman on the video explained. "I had so many different plans — I mean, I had my whole life planned out."

    At the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, students received a 4x6 flash card in their dorm rooms that read: "You plan for college. You plan to graduate. Why not plan for parenting?" directing students to campus health services, according to Arkansas Online.

    The school also requires a mandatory class for students with fewer than 12 credit-hours that includes a unit on pregnancy.

    The Arkansas law, passed in 2015, required all public colleges and universities to develop unplanned pregnancy-prevention action plans, though it allows individual schools to decide how best to provide such a service. Lawmakers are likely hoping that it has an impact for the state, which has the highest rate of teen births in the nation with about a 4% birth rate among girls 15 to 19.

    While sex education can be controversial at the secondary schooling level, the law mandating that public colleges in Arkansas teach students how to prevent unplanned pregnancies through more than abstinence-only programs came with little pushback. It may be the sign of a future trend in Bible Belt states where sex education in earlier years is not as widespread.

    In 2014, Mississippi passed a similar law for public colleges and universities.

    The push for sex education and prevention is in large part a reflection of the desire to build a more educated workforce, Angela Lasiter, a program specialist at the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, told The Pew Charitable Trusts.

    "We've got to get students to stay in school and finish their degree or certificate or whatever program they're in, because we want them to be contributing members of society, we want them to be successful, we want the incomes in Arkansas to go up," Lasiter said.

    SEE ALSO: Students are launching what could be the largest antigun protest in Texas history using sex toys

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  • The committee that brought in Martin Shkreli and Valeant to testify is now going after Mylan (MYL)
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 8:48 PM:)
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    Mylan CEO Heather Bresch

    Mylan is about to feel the heat from the US House Oversight and Reform Committee.

    On Monday, the committee's chair, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, and ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, sent Mylan CEO Heather Bresch a letter requesting documents related to the company's 500% price hike of the EpiPen since 2007.

    The EpiPen is a device used in emergencies to treat anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can make people go into shock, struggle to breathe, or get a skin rash.

    Its price has sparked outrage from a number of members of Congress, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and the general public. In response, Mylan has introduced a savings card that takes up to $300 off a patient's copay, as well as a plan to launch an "authorized generic" version of the EpiPen that will cost $300, more than half off the list price of $608.61.

    Here's some of what the representatives wrote (emphasis added):

    "Mylan has a virtual monopoly over the epinephrine auto-injector market. A national dependence on accessibility to EpiPens has been well established since Mylan's acquisition of the device in 2007. The command of the market has given Mylan the unbridled ability to increase the price of the two-pack EpiPen. While the medicine that actually stops an adverse reaction is remarkably cheap — only a few cents per dose — it is the delivery mechanism that is breaking the bank of many Americans."

    Mylan will have until September 12 to send in the documents.

    The Oversight committee was the one responsible for dragging former pharma CEO Martin Shkreli in to testify along with executives from Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Turing Pharmaceuticals. Shkreli remained silent under the Fifth Amendment, but Cummings said in a release that he was interested in having Shkreli in to testify again.

    SEE ALSO: CONGRESSMAN: Price hikes for drugs are 'like putting a gun to somebody's head'

    DON'T MISS: Why a lifesaving drug that's been around since 1923 is still unaffordable

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  • GOP STRATEGIST: Why you should stop referring to 'white nationalists' as the 'alt-right'
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 8:13 PM:)
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    GOP strategist Evan Siegfried says that the "alt-right" movement does not represent the Republican Party.

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  • Donald Trump's new campaign ad relies on tax plans he doesn't actually support
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 8:03 PM:)
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    Donald Trump

    As you may have seen, Donald Trump has a new campaign ad touting the economic benefits of his tax proposals — but the ad cites analyses of tax plans that he doesn't actually support, as first reported by NBC News.

    Trump's ad relies on two analyses by the conservative Tax Foundation.* One attempted to measure the economic effects of a House Republican tax plan that Trump has not endorsed, while the other looked at the tax plan that Trump released last fall and subsequently withdrew, deciding the tax-rate cuts were too sharp.

    In a statement to NBC News, a Trump policy adviser said that Trump's new ideas about tax policy — and especially corporate tax policy — are close enough to his old ones that they expect the economic effects would be about the same, which is why they relied on the old studies.

    In fairness to Trump, it's not possible to do a rigorous analysis of his new tax plan because he doesn't have one.

    Trump outlined broad strokes about tax policy in a speech earlier this month, including a top income-tax rate 0f 33% — higher than the 25% in his withdrawn plan from last fall, but lower than today's 39.6%. But he hasn't given enough detail about the plan to figure out how much revenue it would collect, let alone how it would affect the economy.

    I'd add another reason not to wish for a new analysis: The Tax Foundation's estimates of economic effects from tax changes are comically rosy, even given accurate inputs about what tax policy a candidate supports.

    I wrote in 2015 for The New York Times about the Tax Foundation's claim that a tax-cutting plan from Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee would have strong positive effects on economic growth — to the extent that tax revenues would be higher after a decade than if you hadn't cut taxes at all. But the finding became much less impressive when you looked under the hood of the economic model:

    "The optimistic results come mostly from assumptions about business investment being wildly responsive to tax policy. Its report found Rubio-Lee would add nearly 50 percent to the business capital stock inside a decade, over and above how much it would have grown absent any change in tax cuts. In other words, if businesses would own two of something under current policy — airplanes, buildings, machines, whatever — they would, on average, go out and buy a third one because of the investment tax cuts in Rubio-Lee.

    "You might think a cut in taxes on investment would increase returns to investors in the long run. But the Tax Foundation's model says that isn't so — instead, it assumes investment would rise as much as was necessary to bid down pretax returns so that after-tax returns were unchanged. For example, automakers would pay a lower tax rate, but they'd make more cars, flooding the market until profit margins fell enough to fully offset the benefits of the tax cut."

    Donald Trump

    The House Republican economic plan, Trump's old tax plan, and his new proposal all involve large cuts in tax rates on capital. So Trump's adviser is probably right that the Tax Foundation model would find the new plan — whatever its granular details — would cause lots of economic growth, for the same reason that it found Rubio's would. But in each case, the model's result is not meaningful.

    In 2015, I spoke with public-finance economists from across the political spectrum about the Tax Foundation model as applied to Rubio's plan, and they all told me that this assumption about the extreme response of capital is unreasonable. It might be reasonable as applied to a very small country with a very open economy, where tax-policy changes could unleash a flood of foreign investment capital.

    But the US is too big for that to work. It takes time to drastically increase the amount of business capital and to find a domestic consumer base for whatever you make with that capital. Plus, models of rapid economic change based on tax policy depend on the ability to attract foreign investment and export products to foreign consumers, and Trump says that he will impose new trade barriers at the same time he cuts taxes.

    There is no such thing as a perfect economic model. Among economists, the question of how taxes affect the economy is a subject of great uncertainty and controversy. Often, the economic effect of a tax policy change will have a clear sign and an unclear magnitude: lower tax rates cause people to work more, but different economists and different empirical studies will disagree about how much more.

    But while these questions often have many answers that might be right, there are still some answers that are clearly wrong. The Tax Foundation's assumptions about how taxes affect workers' behavior are aggressive, but within the range of variable opinion among economists. But the assumption about business-capital investment — the assumption that leads to such rosy economic effects from corporate tax cuts — is too aggressive to take seriously.

    Maybe Trump will eventually release enough detail about his new tax plan for the Tax Foundation to analyze it. But their finding about how his plan will affect jobs and the economy still won't be meaningful.

    *Disclosure: I worked at the Tax Foundation for a year, from 2008 to 2009.

    SEE ALSO: Trump's tax plan sounds populist, but it aims its key benefits at the rich

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  • 'This is unprecedented': Poll reinforces stunning fact about the presidential candidates
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 7:15 PM:)
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    A poll from Monmouth University released on Monday reinforced just how unpopular both presidential candidates are this election cycle.

    The number of people Monmouth surveyed who said they do not have a favorable view of either candidate, 35%, is a record.

    Only 33% of respondents said they have a favorable view of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, and 24% said they have a favorable view of Donald Trump, the Republican nominee.

    "The number of voters who cannot bring themselves to voice a positive opinion of either presidential nominee is more than three times higher than in any other election in recent memory," Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a press release. "This is unprecedented."

    Monmouth poll

    These aren't apples-to-apples comparisons — the older polls are from other surveys, not Monmouth's — but the numbers jibe with previous polls from other outlets.

    In a May survey from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, 54% of respondents said they had a negative view of Clinton, while 34% said they had a positive view. And 58% said they had a negative view of Trump, while 29% were positive.

    While both candidates have high negative ratings, Clinton seems to have more support from her party. In the Monmouth poll, 85% of Democrats said they support Clinton, while 78% of Republicans said the same for Trump.

    Monmouth surveyed 802 registered voters by telephone between August 25 and 28. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

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  • MARK CUBAN: Donald Trump's 'ignorance' could start 'World War' III
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 7:00 PM:)
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    Mark Cuban

    Mark Cuban tweeted on Monday to declare that Donald Trump's "ignorance" could lead the US into "World War III."

    "There is nothing more important than this election right now," Cuban posted. "Trump's ignorance of the world could get us into a world war."

    Cuban also went after Trump's penchant for saying that he can "fix" the country's problems, contending that the Manhattan billionaire "parrots the last person he talks to and lies daily."

    "Anyone else hear the Bob the Builder theme song every Trump says 'He Can Fix It?'" Cuban wrote, attaching a YouTube video of the cartoon's opening theme. "Lol. Trump the Builder..."

    Cuban endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at a rally in Pittsburgh, his hometown, last month. He called Trump a "jagoff" — a popular, demeaning slang term frequently used in western Pennsylvania — during the event. The owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and star of ABC's "Shark Tank" has ripped Trump repeatedly on social media in recent months.

    Earlier in the cycle, Cuban expressed interest in serving as either Trump's or Clinton's running mate before souring on the real-estate magnate's candidacy. In a Monday tweet, he wrote that he knew there "was no chance [that being picked as a running mate] was happening."

    SEE ALSO: 'Give me one example': Mark Cuban goes after Jack Welch for attacking the Clinton Foundation

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  • 10 years ago, Mylan's CEO slammed the very thing her company just did (MYL)
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 6:50 PM:)
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    Mylan CEO Heather Bresch

    Mylan's stance on certain generic drugs has changed significantly over the past decade, with the company put in a similar position now to one its CEO lambasted 10 years ago.

    Mylan CEO Heather Bresch condemned the use of authorized generics by branded pharmaceutical companies — a move that the company made Monday to address the high cost of the EpiPen — according to US Senate testimony from July 2006 that Bloomberg's Susan Decker and Anna Edney dug up.

    On Monday, the specialty and generic drugmaker said that it would make an "authorized generic" version of the EpiPen that will cost $300. It plans to launch the product in "several weeks," depending on when it can whip up the new labels.

    But in her Senate testimony a decade ago, Bresch, who was a senior vice president of corporate strategic development at the time, called authorized generics the "single greatest threat to the viability of the generic industry going forward."

    A spokeswoman for Mylan told Bloomberg that the industry has changed a lot in the last 10 years, and that "authorized generics are now an established part of this highly competitive industry and we are participating in the industry as it exists today."

    The testimony was given before Mylan even had the rights to the EpiPen, and the situation is a bit different, since there are no generic EpiPens already approved and on the market — although there are some in the works.

    Even so, Bresch's words are fascinating in the context of her company's move on Monday.

    "For brand companies, authorized generics are a long-term strategy designed to debilitate our industry because they understand this revenue very importantly generates and enables us to further challenge questionable patents in their pipeline," Bresch said in 2006. "There is no short-term benefit and there is long-term detriment to the generic industry because of this practice."

    What exactly is an 'authorized generic'?

    For a set period of time, a drugmaker has the chance to have an exclusive on the market for a drug that it developed. But once that time is up, other companies can come in with their competing versions that are virtually identical to the original.

    So authorized generics are essentially a drugmaker's way of staying in the game after generic competition comes to the market. The US Food and Drug Administration keeps track of all of the authorized generics that the makers of original branded products have created.

    The authorized generic is identical to the original drug, but it doesn't come with all the bells and whistles of the branded product. In this case, the pen will be the same, but the packaging might be a different color or carry just the "epinephrine auto-injectors" title.

    This way, Mylan can keep its original list price up on the EpiPen while keeping users who might be deterred by price from going to a competing emergency-epinephrine device. And for those without commercial insurance, this should put the price in line with those paying $300 while using the savings card.

    In 2007, when Mylan acquired the drug, a two-pack cost about $100. It's since gone up to $608.61, an increase of about 500%. The $300 price for the generic roughly puts it back at the price the drug was at in 2013, but it still represents a 200% increase over 2007.

    SEE ALSO: The strange history of the EpiPen, the device developed by the military that turned into a billion-dollar business

    DON'T MISS: Why a lifesaving drug that's been around since 1923 is still unaffordable

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  • Rudy Giuliani slams Beyoncé's VMAs performance: It was 'a shame'
    (Politics - August 29 2016 - 6:41 PM:)
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    Rudy Giuliani Alex Wong Getty final

    One of the highlights from the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night was the performance by Beyoncé, who did a medley of songs from her epic visual album "Lemonade," which included a tribute to mothers of African-Americans killed by police officers.

    But the performance didn't impress former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. 

    When asked about Beyoncé's VMAs performance by the hosts of Fox News morning show "Fox and Friends," Giuliani said that he thought the display was "a shame."

    He elaborated: "You're asking the wrong person because I had five uncles who were police officers, two cousins who were, and one who died in the line of duty. I ran the largest and best police department in the world, the New York City Police Department, and I saved more black lives than any of those people you saw on stage by reducing crime, particularly homicide by 75 percent, of which maybe four or five thousand were African-American young people who are alive today because of the policies I put in effect that weren’t in effect for 35 years."

    Beyoncé, who won eight Moonmen on Sunday including album of the year for "Lemonade," has been vocal about recent police shootings. The album was in part a commentary on police violence against young black men.

    SEE ALSO: Ann Coulter gets completely slaughtered by comics at the celebrity roast of Rob Lowe

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