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How the EpiPen Price Hike is Not the Last of Its Kind

In 2015, the head of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Skhreli, became the man that everyone loved to hate. After Turing acquired a patent for Daraprim, an older medication, they increased the price of the drug from $13.50/pill to $750/pill.

In August of 2016, Mylan Pharmaceuticals increased the price of the EpiPen from $56 to over $317. The EpiPen contains vital medication to counteract life-threatening allergic reactions. Soon, the media began to cover stories of parents struggling to afford EpiPens for their children.

After the price hikes, the CEO’s of Turing and Mylan faced heavy criticism. Public outcry demanded the reason for such an outrageous price increase, but the response seemed to be “because we can.” Unsatisfied by the logic, the nation questioned if the laws of the free-market should still apply when it concerns matters of life and death.

Yes, Martin Skhreli was Indicated, But It Was Not Because of the Price Hike

Martin Skhreli, Turing’s CEO, faced charges and was indicted of securities fraud in December 2015. As of September 2016, Skhreli is free on bail until his case heads to court. But his indictment of securities fraud comes from his time as a hedge fund manager and the CEO to a different company. During that time, Skhreli took the money from his company to make up for the money his investors lost in his hedge fund. His criminal charge have nothing to do with the price hike at Turing.

In fact, Skhreli, or any other CEO or company that increases the price of a necessary medication, cannot face criminal charges for the price increase. There is no law that criminalizes a drastic price increase.

It Is Not Illegal to Raise the Price of Drugs, In Fact It’s Good Business

Every discussion about the economy usually relies on the fact that the U.S. economy relies on capitalism. Capitalism can be a difficult concept, but the key point to understand is that a capitalistic economy relies on private ownership and is driven by profit. supreme court generic drugs

Companies like Turing and Mylan that produce life-saving and vital medications can adjust the price to whatever would give them the most profit. If there are no alternatives to the medications supplied by those companies, then they have no competition and can set the drugs at the highest possible price.

This was the case for the price hikes by Turing and Mylan. Where there is a drastic price hike, capitalism says that other companies will create their version to undermine a competitors’ profits.

For Daraprim, the drug created by Turing, other corporations were able to create a generic version which costs only $1 per pill. But for the EpiPen, the price increase applies to the medication sold in the auto-injector and not the actual medication itself. The auto-injector is patented by Mylan.

After Mylan offered a “generic” version at $300 per box instead of $600, the nation was not convinced. To avoid paying such an outrageous price, some users of the EpiPen have resorted to buying the drug in the auto-injector (epinephrine), and injecting it themselves.

But is that the only solution? Do we need to wait until another corporation decides to create a profit?

If We Ask for the Government to Step In, It Will Be a Long Wait

Healthcare seems to be heavily regulated by the U.S. government. But out of all possible aspects of healthcare, the pharmaceutical industry faces the least amount of regulation. In fact, Daraprim and EpiPen are not the only drugs that have increased by over 100%.

In 2002, a drug called “Abilify” entered the market to treat acute psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. It soon proved to be effective in treating other disorders, but the other treatments were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). So insurance companies refused to cover the cost for “off-label” use.

Currently, the price of ability without insurance can range from $700 to $1,000 for 30 pills. It was only in 2015 that the FDA approved a generic version of Abilify. For 13 years, patients were spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on a medication that was necessary to their daily function.

In short, what has happened with Turing and Mylan is not something new, and it’s also not something that will go away. Drug companies have been doing this for a long time, and the U.S. government makes no attempt to stop them.

If you feel like drug companies need to be regulated, then 3 out of 4 Americans agree with you. The majority of the nation are beginning to feel like pharmaceutical industries need to be regulated and stopped. It is hard not to want regulation when a person needs to decide between financial ruin to survive a treatable illness, or death. It is time for each citizen to tell lawmakers and the pharmaceutical industry that enough is enough.

Melania Trump Sues For Defamation Over Alleged Prostitution

After embarrassing herself by giving a speech that plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech, Melania Trump has found herself involved in another First Amendment matter. Only this time, Mrs. Trump is the complainant, rather than the perpetrator. Melania Trump is currently pursuing a defamation lawsuit against both a blogger based in Maryland and a British newspaper for claiming that she was a prostitute in the 1990s and has recently suffered a mental breakdown partially because of a risk of exposure of said alleged career.

Webster Tarpley, a political blogger based out of Maryland, wrote in a blog post on August 2 that Melania Trump was on the verge of a nervous breakdown in part due to a risk of exposing her alleged career as a high-end escort. Two weeks after Mr. Tarpley’s blog post was published, the Daily Mail, a British newspaper known for publishing salacious celebrity gossip alongside actual news, also ran an article about Melania Trump.

The article alluded to Mrs. Trump working as a prostitute instead of strictly as a model during the ‘90s, as her modeling agency supposedly was a front for a call-girl agency. The Daily Mail cited a Slovenian magazine and an unauthorized biographer as its credible sources. When a number of news outlets began picking up and running both the blog post and the article, Mrs. Trump filed a libel lawsuit against both the Daily Mail and Mr. Tarpley.

Liable for Libel?

In order to be successful in her lawsuit, Melania Trump will need to prove the different elements, or parts, of a libel case.

First, Mrs. Trump must prove that the statements made about her career and mental health are false. This can be easily proven by providing evidence to the contrary, such as doctors’ reports about Melania’s mental state, copies of her resume to illustrate the work she actually did during the 1990s, and testimony provided by witnesses who knew Mrs. Trump during the time that she is accused of having been a prostitute or period during which she is said to have had a mental breakdown. Melania Trump

Second, Melania will need to prove that the statements were actually published to a third party. The “to a third party” portion of the element simply means that the publication must be done with the intent of sharing a libelous statement with a person other than the subject of the statement and the party making the statement. This is the easiest element to prove for Mrs. Trump, as she can simply show that Webster Tarpley’s blog post and the Daily Mail’s article were both made available to the general public with the intent of having a number of different people read the post and the article.

Third, Mrs. Trump will need to prove that the Daily Mail and Mr. Tarpley acted with actual malice when making the statements about her current state of mental health and her past employment. Mrs. Trump is required to prove actual malice because, as the wife of the Republican candidate running for president and a model, she is a public figure.

In order to prove actual malice in a libel case, one must show that the defendant published the statement while either knowing that the statement was not true or without caring at all as to whether it was false or not. While it may be easy for Melania Trump to show that Mr. Tarpley acted with malice, as the blogger only vaguely references Twitter posts and a comment allegedly made by the rapper 50 Cent as the evidence upon which he has chosen to base his assertions of Mrs. Trump’s prostitute past and recent mental breakdown.

The Daily Mail, on the other hand, relied upon both an unauthorized biographer and a Slovenian magazine as its sources. One would assume that a biographer, even an unauthorized one, would likely have done substantial research on their chosen subject, including possibly digging up some unsavory details about the subject’s past. Also, the magazine is based out of Mrs. Trump’s home country, meaning that it probably has access to sources and information that Mrs. Trump may not have considered. Thus, the Daily Mail, especially as it is an internationally-known publication, likely did engage in some effort to determine the veracity of the allegations it made with regard to Melania Trump working as an escort prior to marrying Donald Trump.

Any claims that the publication was unable to verify were labeled as unsubstantiated and all claims were assigned to their respective sources without the Daily Mail overtly asserting that all of these claims are absolutely true in an apparent attempt to avoid committing libel. Since it appears that the Daily Mail did make an effort to avoid posting anything that it knew was a lie, Melania Trump may not be able to successfully prove that the Daily Mail engaged in actual malice. However, it will be up to the judge in charge of trying the case to determine if the Daily Mail’s efforts were enough to avoid committing actual malice.

Fourth, Melania Trump needs to prove that the publication of Mr. Tarpley’s blog and the Daily Mail’s publication caused her to suffer actual damage. It is not always enough to simply state that one is hurt by false statements if it cannot be inferred as to how these statements could have harmed the person.

Indeed, what with the different scandalous items about Melania Trump that have come to light recently, it may not be entirely clear as to just how these statements have seriously harmed her in a manner that would have not happened if these statements had never been made. Thus, it is not surprising that Mrs. Trump’s lawyers have already alluded to the statements affecting Melania’s efforts to license her name and likeness in the complaint as a way to show that she is harmed by the publication of the statements. However, Melania may need to go a step further to provide actual examples of licensing attempts that have been negatively impacted by the statements.

Any case involving defamation is difficult and complicated, as proven by Melania Trump’s attempt to bring one of her own. This type of case often requires the assistance of a lawyer who knows how to protect a client’s public image while not being seen as trying to stifle free speech. If you feel that, like Mrs. Trump, you have recently been harmed by a false statement or other form of defamation and are interested in protecting your reputation or receiving financial compensation for that harm, contact a personal injury attorney right away.

AZ Supreme Court Clears Path for Recreational Marijuana Initiative

Arizona will be joining California, Maine, and Nevada in having a recreational marijuana measure on the ballot in November. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on August 31 that a measure to make recreational use of marijuana will be permitted to be on the ballot in the fall. The ballot measure, better known as Proposition 205, aims to make recreational use of marijuana legal for Arizona residents who are 21 years of age or older.

While Proposition 205 will permit anyone who is at least 21 to possess and use marijuana without requiring them to also have a medical marijuana card, it still contains limits on the use and possession of marijuana. Arizonans who would be able to possess marijuana can only have 1 ounce in their possession at any given time. If a person possesses more than an ounce, they would be guilty of a misdemeanor. Possession of 2.5 ounces or more will still be a felony in Arizona.

This may prove to be a problem for many Arizona residents who intend to take advantage of the law if it passes, as the initiative also permits for people who are of age to cultivate 6 plants and consume everything produced by those plants. If a person cultivates a total of 6 plants but does not consume everything that all of the plants produce in a timely fashion, it may result in the person being in possession of more than 1 ounce accidentally and being in violation of the law. marijuana court gavel

A group called Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy had filed a challenge to Proposition 205 with the intent to block it from appearing on the ballot. The complaint alleged that the supporters of the initiative used tactics to get it on the ballot that were unconstitutional. Also, the group asserted that the actual initiative violated Arizona state law in three separate ways.

First, the 100-word summary describing the proposition that was presented to voters to obtain signatures was allegedly fraudulent and misleading in its wording, meaning that people who signed the petition intended to get the measure on the ballot did not fully understand what they were signing in support for. Second, the summary failed to inform people about changes to different pre-existing laws that the initiative would enact if it passed, such as changes to employment and child custody laws. Third, the summary failed to identify a financial source to support the agency that will be created for the sole purpose of enforcing the regulations attached to the initiative.

However, the Arizona Superior Court judge who was assigned to the case ruled against the plaintiffs. First, the judge found that the Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy did not have standing to bring the lawsuit. This was due to alterations made to the law by the Arizona legislature in 2015 that severely limited a citizen’s right to challenge any ballot initiative. The judge also took the time to address and rule against the actual claims in the lawsuit. In doing so, the judge determined that the supporters were allowed to put as much or as little information into the summary as they wanted, and that the summary was clear enough, in the judge’s opinion, that the signers of the petition knew what they were signing in support of.

The organization bringing the lawsuit did appeal the superior court’s ruling, but, as previously mentioned, the Arizona Supreme Court also ruled against the organization. Unlike the lower court, the Arizona Supreme Court did not state that the Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy lacked standing. Instead, the Arizona Supreme Court focused only on the actual issues listed in the complaint when it issued its ruling. Thus, it is uncertain how this case may affect other lawsuits brought with the intention of blocking ballot initiatives. One thing is for certain, though, Arizona residents will be granted the opportunity to vote on whether or not they would like to have recreational use of marijuana legalized in their state.

Rent to Own Homes: Great Deal or Example of Predatory Lending?

When you don’t have a lot of money or you can’t qualify for a mortgage, the thought of buying a home seems like a pipe dream. But for some who dream of home ownership, they’re finding an alternative with rent-to-own homes.

Vision Property Management is a real estate firm that offers rent-to-own contracts. The homes require tenants to make all the necessary repairs within a specified amount of time. The repairs can be minor inexpensive repairs to major costly repairs. Many tenants who sign these contracts have a certain number of months to correct various code violations. If they do not fix the violation within the required time, they are evicted from the property and are out any cost of repair that they spent to bring the home up to code.

How are companies like Vision Property Management buying these properties? The property management company is based in Columbia, South Carolina, and it buys homes through the secondary mortgage market from Fannie Mae. As a result, they’re able to get great deals on homes that have fallen into various states of disrepair, often paying less than $10,000 for a single-family home.

Are these homes a good option for people who want to own but can’t afford home ownership?

Habitability Concerns

One of the main problems with rent-to-own homes is that they often contain conditions that fall below what is considered habitable. Every state is different, although most states require that a landlord provide a tenant a rental unit that is fit for human habitation. In most states, this requires that the rental comply with applicable state or local housing codes, such as minimum requirements for hot water, sewage disposal, and electricity. State law generally requires the landlord make necessary repairs to bring the house up to code and into a habitable condition. House

With rent-to-own homes, there is no such habitability requirement. Tenants must instead bring the building up to code themselves, which can be prohibitively expensive for people who have little funds to begin with. Many have to live with a broken furnaces (ie. no heat) or drainage problems for a period of time until they are evicted for failing to bring the home up to code. In that regard, the landlord benefits from collecting monthly rent while the tenant maintains all the risk of making and paying for all necessary repairs.

Inspections

What’s worse is that these rent-to-own homes don’t first require a tenant inspection. When a homeowner puts in an offer to buy a home, they typically have what’s called an “inspection contingency.” The inspection contingency permits the prospective buyer to inspect the home with licensed professionals in order to determine what, if any, problems exist with the property. If there are problems unanticipated by the buyer when he or she put in the offer, the inspection contingency permits the potential buyer to re-negotiate the contract at a lower price in anticipation of making necessary repairs.

Because rent-to-own homes are not purchased outright and the potential buyer and seller have a landlord-tenant relationship initially, there’s no such inspection contingency. As a result, tenants do not know what they’re getting into when they sign the contract. They later discover the house is riddled with problems and they cannot afford the repairs.

Mortgages

Rent-to-own homes don’t start with standard mortgages. Instead, Vision Property Management acts as the lender while the tenant rents the property and brings it up to code. After seven years of renting and so long as the home is code compliant, the tenant automatically owns the home. It is up to the tenant to find appropriate financing to pay for the remainder of the home.

Since rent-to-own homes are not a typical home purchase, the landlord is not required to comply with various federal and state laws when it comes to lending money. Most notably, landlords need not comply with the Federal Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), which requires lenders to detail how much interest they are charging and how many payments prospective buyers must make before they own the house. Tenants may not know how much they’re ultimately paying for these homes.

Are these Contracts Legal?

Although there are a lot of risks associated with rent-to-own homes from the tenant/buyer perspective, they are completely legal and could be a viable option for people who don’t have enough money for a large down payment or can’t quite quality for a mortgage, so long as you know what you’re getting into.

Firefighters Denied Workers Compensation

Dozens of injured San Jose firefighters have been denied workers compensation claims. Over the past several months, firefighters in the San Jose area who have been injured on duty have been denied workers compensation. These firefighters complain that they are not given the proper treatment and care that they deserve.

Workers Comp

Workers compensation is an essential component of the work force dynamic. It acts as a safety net for workers who are hurt on the job. Without such a system in place,  millions of workers will be left to support themselves and pay for their own insurance plans. Workers compensation acts as a substitute for insurance coverage. It is a form of insurance that compensates workers that are hurt on the job.

Under the California Labor Code, employers must purchase workers compensation on behalf of their employees.  Similarly, public agencies such as the Fire Department and the Police Department must provide workers comp for their employees. However, public employees are sometimes treated as contractors rather than actual employees. As a result, these public employees are denied workers compensation when they need it. Firefighter

Generally, workers compensation is an agreement between the employer and employee. The employer will provide for injuries and other related costs but, the employee will not have the right to sue the employer for negligence. This seems like a fair tradeoff. However, if the employer is mandated to provide workers comp and they do not, then they can be in legal trouble.  The deprived employee can seek damages through a civil court beyond the compensation that the employee was originally entitled to.

Moreover, the employee can go through their respective state fund to recover damages.  As mentioned before, a lawsuit cannot be commenced against the employer for grounds of negligence. The exceptions are if workers comp was not provided or if it is on discrimination grounds.

A Flawed System

The City of San Jose has wronged the San Jose Firefighters through Athens Administrators. The city contracted out its workers comp disbursement system to Athens Administrators, which has not provided for these brave firefighters in a number of instances. This is no good. These people are constantly putting their life on the line and the least the city could do is repay the favor. Some of the issues with the workers comp systems in place are logistical and not a question of outwards denial of the individual.

Logistically, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of every incoming claim. As a result, these claims are left out of the system and not tended to. The automated databases that collect and input the claims have flawed mechanisms that don’t always keep track of every incoming claim, resulting in unattended claims.

Additionally, Athens  has outright denied workers comp to firefighters because they didn’t feel the harm or injury was extreme enough. As one staff member put it, the “treatment was not medically necessary.” That’s not the point. Under workers comp, regardless of severity of injury, treatment should be given. It is absurd to think that a firefighter who has come in with bruises is denied because it does not come off as severe enough. Someone does not have to end up in the emergency room before assistance is given.

There need to be ground rules as to what is covered and what isn’t. Furthermore, the system needs to keep better track of each claim. As a number of firefighters have complained, the system neglects to even look at certain claims. Under state and federal law, workers comp is a right that belongs to workers. If this right is not upheld, then all is for naught. At the end of the day, the system is dictated by rule of law. If these laws are broken, then there have to be measures in place that will trigger a reaction that will ensure that the system is abided by.



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