Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 2nd, 2021

Philip Morris International cigarettes can cause lung disease. Now the company wants to sell medicine to treat it.

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Chutzpah? Sweet deal? Self-licking ice cream cone? That is, the company can increase tar and other carcinogens in their cigarettes and thus boost sales of their cancer-fighting products. Philip Morris International is not celebrated for its high moral standards and concern for its customers — rather the opposite, in fact, as shown by their bribing paying scientists to obfuscate findings on the many diseases caused by smoking cigarettes. From the CDC:

Smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body.
More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Secondhand smoke exposure contributes to approximately 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year. Secondhand smoke causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, more severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth.

Todd C. Frankel reports in the Washington Post:

Ruth Tal-Singer spent more than two decades at GlaxoSmithKline, where she was a top scientist studying COPD — a chronic lung disease often related to smoking. She’s published dozens of influential scientific papers. And she now helps run the nonprofit COPD Foundation.

So she was stunned when a recruiter contacted her this summer to see if she would be interested in working with Philip Morris International, the world’s largest listed tobacco company.

“Mind-boggling,” she said.

The tobacco company’s bid to hire Tal-Singer is a piece of a much larger plan by the New York-based company to pivot away from cigarettes and develop new lines of business that go beyond just smoke-free products. Philip Morris International calls it a “Beyond Nicotine” strategy and says it wants to earn $1 billion from these new ventures by 2025.

All cigarette companies know the industry that established their fortunes is fading, as smoking rates decline worldwide. Most are invested in vaping and e-cigarettes. But no Big Tobacco firm has been as aggressive as Philip Morris International in seeking out entirely new ways of making money.

The tobacco giant’s new goal has led to a buying spree of drug-delivery firms in recent weeks — stirring up sharp criticism and skepticism from doctors, scientists and health officials who distrust the tobacco industry, which for decades denied smoking was dangerous.

The acquisitions are especially galling, scientists and doctors say, because some of the target companies make treatments for smoking-related ailments.

“It’s like someone breaking your knees and then selling you the crutches,” said Tal-Singer, who declined the offer to work with the company.

In July, Philip Morris International snapped up the Danish firm Fertin Pharma, which makes medicinal chewing gum. That was followed by U.S. drug company OtiTopic, which is developing an aerosolized drug to treat heart attacks. Philip Morris also recently unveiled plans to pay $1.4 billion for the British drug firm Vectura, a major developer of inhaled treatments for COPD and other respiratory ailments, including a potential covid-19 treatment.

Vectura’s board voted in August to recommend Philip Morris International’s bid to shareholders over a competing, slightly lower offer from U.S. private equity firm the Carlyle Group. Vectura shareholders will decide on the takeover bid by the middle of September. A Vectura spokesman declined to comment on the potential deal.

And more acquisitions are coming, Philip Morris International says. This summer, it created a new division to focus in part on identifying companies to buy in the Americas. Philip Morris International — best known for its Marlboro brand — sells cigarettes everywhere in the world except the United States. The company was created in 2008 when Altria Group spun it off as its own entity. (Philip Morris USA sells cigarettes domestically.)

The cigarette company’s attempt to buy Vectura in particular has drawn objections from groups such as the American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society and Royal College of Physicians. These groups recently joined other medical associations in a joint letter to Vectura shareholders urging them to reject Philip Morris International’s overture.

“It just screams, ‘Huge conflict of interest,’” said Michelle Eakin, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who studies lung disease prevention and heads the thoracic society’s Tobacco Action Committee. “Tobacco companies — there is no way they can be trusted.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

2 September 2021 at 3:52 pm

‘It’s a Real Lesson in the Corruption of This Country’

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Anti-Sackler activist Nan Goldin on the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy settlement.

Sarah Jones writes in New York:

In 2018, the acclaimed photographer Nan Goldin made an admission. In an essay for Artforum, she revealed she developed a substance-use disorder after a physician prescribed her OxyContin for a surgery. “I believe I owe it to those affected by this epidemic to make the personal political,” she wrote. Goldin founded the activist collective PAIN and took on the Sackler name behind Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, which has been blamed for sparking the opioid epidemic.

Goldin and fellow activists have since staged protests at museums across the world bearing the names of Sackler family members who made a fortune from Purdue Pharma. At the Met, they staged die-ins, carried banners, floated empty pill bottles into the reflecting pool at the Temple of Dendur. As living symbols of a crisis in motion, they are protesting members of the Sackler family, once known for its largesse and now for something else altogether.

On Wednesday, U.S. bankruptcy court judge Robert Drain conditionally approved a settlement plan that “largely absolves” members of the Sackler family “of Purdue opioid-related liability,” the New York Times reported. (The Sacklers have not been charged with a crime and deny they are responsible for any wrongdoing.) Under the terms of the settlement, Purdue Pharma itself is dissolved and, according to the Times, members of the Sackler family also “agreed to turn over $4.5 billion, including federal settlement fees, paid in installments over roughly nine years.” Nevertheless, the Sacklers remain an exceedingly wealthy family. Nine states objected to the plan, and in the weeks leading up to the ruling, activists like Goldin said the settlement doesn’t go far enough, and that it lets the wealthy Sacklers off the hook. Justice for survivors of the opioid crisis may not arrive in a courtroom, administered by a judge.

Goldin spoke with Intelligencer ahead of the settlement plan’s approval about what true justice requires and why she and PAIN aren’t done with the Sackler name yet.

For those who might not be familiar with it, how would you explain PAIN and its origins?

So PAIN started after I read Patrick Radden Keefe’s article in The New Yorker, and I became incensed that this name that I always believed was related to philanthropy in the museums was actually the name of a part of a drug empire. I brought friends and assistants and activists into this group that was meeting every week in my living room. Our focus was on shaming the Sacklers. I thought, well, they live in their museums. That’s what they care about. So that’s where I chose to focus, and also because I’m in the collections of many of these museums.

We started doing actions a year into it, beginning at the Met. After I declared in the media that I wouldn’t do the retrospective planned at the National Portrait Gallery in London, they refused a million dollars from the Sacklers. Then within days, the Tate, the Guggenheim, and then a month later, the Met, all recently announced that they were refusing future funding. No one gave money back, and only the Louvre and Tufts have taken down the name, and Edinburgh, I believe, have wiped off the Sackler name.

What’s the strategy behind the actions — the deliberative process?

It’s a group effort. There’s a designer and a brilliant graphic artist in the group who designed the bottles that have a fake prescription on the front. They are pill bottles with prescriptions on them that says OxyContin, prescribed by Purdue, and side effect, death. We try to utilize the architecture of each building that we’re going to. So at the Met, we threw bottles into the Nile down the Temple of Dendur. It was about a thousand bottles bobbing in the water.

Then at the Guggenheim, we used the atrium to unleash a blizzard of prescriptions. At the V&A, we use the courtyard that was paid for by the Sacklers. In each one, we do a die-in as well. So we sit around and we bounce off each other, and that’s how we get to our ideas. Then we plan the actions and how to bring something like bottles into the actual interior.

And are you drawing from earlier protest movements?

Always ACT UP is the model. I was around in the days of ACT UP, and I was part of their protests, although not as actively involved as I wish I had been. I feel like everyone has to find a fight in these days that are so dark, and I realized that what I knew best is opioid addiction. So the overdose crisis is where I chose to fight. We’re not anti-opioid; we’re anti-profiteers.

What consequences, if any, have there been for you as you’ve pursued this activism? . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Later in the article:

It’s been a real lesson in the corruption of this country to watch this court, that billionaires have a different justice systems than the rest of us, and that they can actually walk away unscathed. The biggest drug cartel in America is going to walk away with no consequences, and a huge amount of incarcerated people are there because of small drug crimes. Possession, selling, and they’re in jail for 6 years, 10 years, 15 years for small amounts of drugs. This company was responsible for igniting the overdose crisis, which has now cost 800,000 lives, and they are going to walk away free.

Written by Leisureguy

2 September 2021 at 3:01 pm

The Sound of Jazz

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I thought we could all use something that’s upbeat. 

Written by Leisureguy

2 September 2021 at 10:16 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

Meißner Tremonia in the US

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I think that Meißner Tremonia has probably abandoned the US market. You’ll note that the label is in German, not English, unlike other Meißner Tremonia soap sold in the US — though this one still is available, from Smallflower, as reader Jean S-P pointed out. Smallflower also has Indian Flavour (whose fragrance is more appealing to me) and Mint Ice Menthol (haven’t tried), both with labels in German. And there are other signs of retreat: a couple of aftershaves (Salty Sea Sage, Strong ‘n Scottish) with no corresponding shaving soap.

The soap is somewhat less expensive than it seems: most soap is sold in a 4-oz puck, but Meißner Tremonia’s puck is 6.76 oz — almost 50% more — and it’s a hard puck (which also lathers wonderfully). Certainly the lather from the Dark Limes I used today was all that I could ask. The Italian-flag handle has the same knob base as yesterday’s brush — indeed the handle today, in shape, looks like the big brother of yesterday’s handle, a big brother who works out a lot.

Henson Shaving’s wonderful razor — this is the Medium — did an excellent job. This is a throughly modern razor, not a tweak on a vintage design, and I like it a lot. Three passes did a fine job, and then a splash of Geo. F. Trumper West Indian Extract of Limes finished the shave with style.

Written by Leisureguy

2 September 2021 at 9:38 am

Posted in Shaving

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