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Prophylaxis for HIV

A new drug has been released which is supposed to be helpful in the prophylaxis against HIV infections. This one drug, in my opinion, sums up everything that is both good and bad in the pharmaceutical industry. Unless you were alive and sexually active in the mid-to-late 1980s, it’s hard to imagine how devastating HIV was. Unless you are a homosexual male, it is hard to imagine how devastating HIV continues to be.

from the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/aa/index.htm)

First the good. This new drug appears to be highly effective at preventing HIV infections. It is possible to reduce the risk of infection by up to 75%. This is clearly good. This combined with safe sex practices should help reduce HIV infections in at-risk populations.

Now, the not so good. One of the problems that the pharmaceutical industry has is that it spends a lot of time and money repackaging old drugs. This new drug, Truvada, is not a new drug in all. Instead, it is a combination of two old drugs. I’m not saying that this combination is not effective. I’m saying that is not new. Secondly, almost everything that comes out of the pharmaceutical industry these days is also ridiculously expensive. This drug, in order to be effective, must be taken every day. Truvada costs approximately $14,000 a year.

So, in summary, we have a drug that appears to be extremely effective at reducing HIV infections if it is taken every day and if the patient can afford $14,000 per year. The cost and the daily regimen seems to really limit the effectiveness of this drug.

Post racial America, we ain’t there yet

Do you smile when you see this photo?

I know that we like to think of ourselves as living in a post-racial America. I wish we were there. I truly wish we lived in a land in which race simply doesn’t matter. Several researchers have looked at the 2008 election and asked whether race was a factor in voting in the 2008 election. These researchers were able to use Google searches (looking for racially motivated terms). An estimated three to five percent of the votes cast for racially motivated.

The New York Times has more: Continue reading Post racial America, we ain’t there yet