Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

War On Drugs

Delflazacort Molecular Structure
Marcel posts a link to a story about the big price increase for deflazacort , which is some kind of drug for a semi-rare disease, which means that I don't know if anyone I know actually has it.

Anyway, these issues irritate me because, 1) the big drug companies are obviously evil, impoverishing zillions of honest people simply because they want to live a little longer, 2) these stories are designed to inflame people's passions, which we all know are best way to make a rational decision, and 3) what can I do about it? And aren't there people who are supposed to be watching out for this shit?

Anyway, it all got me stirred up enough to comment, and since it was such a great comment, I thought I would share:
There are three separate issues here. One is whether people who would benefit from this drug can get it. Two is whether the drug company is making so much money from the sale of this drug that they should be publicly flogged. And three is whether people taking this drug are getting any benefit from it. While we might like to think that these issues are all tied together, they are not. They are in fact completely independent. I suspect Marathon, like most everyone in the health care industry, is gaming the system in order to maximize their profits. All this fuss about the price of this drug is entirely a political tempest designed to stir up more s**t so nobody notices that what is actually happening, which is that the big monkeys are stealing all the monkey biscuits.
And yes, I'm on a three-points-make-an-argument kick this morning.

Wikipedia has an article about Deflazacort. You can follow the link, but be warned, this rabbit hole is deep.

The drawing of the molecular structure of delflazacort (top) includes some marks that I just came across this week while assisting my daughter with her chemistry class. First, let's cover the basics. The capital letters indicate atoms of Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen. The single lines indicate single covalent bonds and the double lines indicate double bonds (imagine that!). The vertices where there are no letters are Carbon. The pointy arrow marks are bonds to atoms that are above the page, and the dash marks indicate a pointy arrow that goes to an atom below the page. All the other atoms must therefor lie in a plane. Molecular shape has a great deal to do with how a molecule works in the body.

While looking for a picture to accompany this post (drugs are always tough), I found a bunch of 3D renderings, but they were all water-marked which kind of detracts from their appearance. In diabolical daughter's chemistry class, there are plenty of 3D models to mess with (meaning you can twist and turn them on the screen so you can get a real 'feel' for their shape, but they are all simple, molecules with fewer than a dozen atoms, so no deflazacort.

The 3D feature on Google Earth can do the same with land forms. Pick an area with some hills, click on the 3D button, press the Control key, and now you can use the mouse to pan (turn) and tilt your view. It can really make the hills come alive. You do need a relatively current processor (something from the last five or ten years), plenty of memory and a high speed internet connection, but it's really quite spectacular.

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