Left-Right synergy that could have been

This is not the time to be talking about Left-Right alliances. I know. But this piece by Kevin Drum got my attention. He’s responding to the fact that asthma inhalers are very expensive because of the way pharmaceutical companies have gamed intellectual patent law. Here’s Drum:

In other words, pharmaceutical companies didn’t just take advantage of this situation, they actively worked to create this situation. Given the minuscule impact of CFC-based inhalers on the ozone layer, it’s likely that an exception could have been agreed to if pharmaceutical companies hadn’t lobbied so hard to get rid of them. The result is lower-quality inhalers and fantastically higher profits for Big Pharma.

As someone with asthma I have kept track of this issue more than most. There’s someone else who pointed out how ridiculuous banning CFC-based inhalers was in light of their trivial contribution, Sen. Jim DeMint aims to overturn inhaler ban:

“It’s a stupid regulation,” DeMint told POLITICO. “It’s just one more example of just out of control regulation that’s harming the quality of life for Americans.”

DeMint argues the inhaler emits just a tiny fraction of chlorofluorocarbons.

While Republicans especially have gone after a series of Obama administration EPA and other regulations this Congress, the FDA rule actually traces back to the George W. Bush administration.

FDA began public discussions about the use of CFCs in epinephrine inhalers in January 2006 and finalized the phase-out for using CFCs in the inhalers in November 2008. It is part of the U.S. commitment under the international Montreal Protocol agreement that aims to reduce ozone-depleting substances.

Many inhaler manufacturers are now using a more environmentally friendly propellant called hydrofluoroalkane. Primatene Mist — marketed by Armstrong Pharmaceutical Inc. — is the only FDA approved inhaler for relieving mild asthma that is sold over-the-counter without a prescription.

FDA last month said there are “many other safe and effective inhalers to treat asthma symptoms,” which would require a prescription.

In general I agree with those conservatives who believe that the Republicans have been emphasizing style over substance recently. But it’s a reminder that people like DeMint on the “Far Right” have who adhere to principle over pragmatism can sometimes surprise those Left critics would argue that Republican populism is always a facade.

This entry was posted in Medicine and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Left-Right synergy that could have been

  1. WmarkW says:

    I’ve come to realize (or at least theorize) that I’m wrong about being a conservative. I just dislike modern liberalism.

    The are three economic sides in current politics: the left (dependent on government), the right (dependent on investment), and workers (dependent on wages). The latter is not always the center of a two-pole political spectrum between the other two. Illegal immigration and subprime mortgages (before they blew up) are two issues where the left and right were on the same side opposed by most workers.

    Environmentalism that increases profits while doing little for the actual environment could be another.

  2. Larry, San Francisco says:

    That would make you a Joel Kotkin liberal.

  3. CONSVLTVS says:

    I don’t know what counts as Far Right these days anyway. Is it strict fiscal (i.e., budgetary) conservatism? Is it hawkish foreign policy? Is it Christian fundamentalism? Is it uncompromising support for free markets? Must it be all of these?

    Here’s my fantasy: The rest of the Far Right jettisons the fundamentalists.

  4. cynthia curran says:

    hat would make you a Joel Kotkin liberal.
    Joel Kotkin didn’t protest to the cheap labor of Los Angeles in the 1990’s. La was the sweatshop capital where a lot of illegal Hispanics sewed dresses, shirts and so forth and so did some Asians. At one time the garment industry in La had about 160,000 workers. Those jobs were shipped overseas one reason for the dropped of illegal immirgants in California since 2007. Joel protested Prop 187 which was against illegal immirgants since he supported them and in the late 1990’s thought Orange County Ca was wonderful. In recently years he hates La and even Orange County. Orange County is still disliked more by the left than Austin, Houston or Dallas Tx since it still votes more Republican than them but has less blacks but Joel which hates the left elite still writes nasty articles against both La and OC because housing cost so much. So, now he likes Texas because housing is cheaper.

  5. DensityDuck says:

    Saying “this goes back to the Bush Administration” is misleading. It actually goes back to the Clinton administration. That is the time period when the CFC ban was put into place, and when the FDA first declared a CFC-inhaler phase-out.

  6. Colin says:

    Once the decision was made to remove CFCs from commercial use (fridges and solvents for cleaning etc), the pharma companies found that supplies of CFCs became difficult.
    The quantity used for asthma inhalers just isn’t sufficient to justify a CFC manufacturer staying in business.

    In the EU, all the major companies were forced to reformulate or discontinue products because of the lack of CFCs.

    Although the pharma market is big (in money terms), the actual quantities of raw materials used is small in comparison with industrial requirements, so they are only a minor customer.

Comments are closed.