Monday, 16 January 2017

09:19 – Happy MLK day to any of my readers who celebrate it. It’s a normal workday for us.

The weather continues spring-like. It was 43F (6C) when I got up this morning, gray and damp with heavy fog, but not raining. We’re to have more of the same for the next few days.

We got enough made up yesterday of everything we need to build another smallish batch of chemistry kits, enough to fill four or five outstanding orders and have another several remaining. We’ll build forensic kits next, and then back to build more chemistry kits. At this time of year, I don’t want to get too much inventory built up, because it’ll just sit on the shelves. January sales are usually pretty decent. A lot of homeschoolers are ordering for the spring semester, as are a lot of schools and universities. Come February, sales will drop off severely. It’s our worst month. Some years, we sell barely a dozen kits the whole month.

And I see from the front-page headline in the morning paper that ObamaCare is about to be replaced by TrumpCare, AKA “Insurance for All”. I was kind of hoping it would instead be “Insurance for anyone who wants it and can pay for it”.

If Trump gets what he wants, the biggest losers are likely to be the pharmaceutical companies, for whom the gravy train may be coming to an end. For decades, Americans have been paying much, much more for pharmaceuticals than citizens of any other country, often ten times as much or more. That’s because other countries, including the EU and Canada, negotiate fiercely with pharma companies, particularly American ones. The gloves are off. Even many of our allies negotiate with American drug companies under the threat of ignoring their patents and producing their drugs locally.

Trump says that Medicare and Medicaid (and, presumably, TrumpCare) will no longer pay what the drug companies ask. Instead they’ll take advantage of their volume-purchasing power to negotiate lower prices for drugs. American consumers will no longer be the goose that lays the golden eggs. If you own any stock in pharma companies, now may be a good time to sell it.

Pharma companies have been abusing these sweetheart deals for decades. If and when they go away, Big Pharma will be hurting badly. All or nearly all of their profits come out of American pockets, most of that from American taxpayers. If Trump also cracks down on patent abuses, which have been rampant, he essentially kills drug development by US pharma companies. Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing.

Over the last 30 years or so, most of the “new” drugs that have been developed have been, at best, minor improvements on existing drugs. Things like reduced dosage frequencies or minor changes to formulations that allow the pharmas to obtain new patents on what amount to existing drugs. As far as actual new and useful drugs, there haven’t been many, nor are there likely to be many if things continue as they are. Pharma companies have gone from being developers of new and useful drugs to managing their existing portfolios to maximize revenue. Like most people, I have little sympathy for them. The hugely increased price of things like epinephrine injectors and synthetic insulin pretty much sums up the state of things. Nothing new, other than ridiculously increased prices.