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New SF law makes you wonder what mayor is smoking

BY Rob Eder

Feel free to sing along if you like: (To the tune of “If you’re going to San Francisco”)

If you’re going to San Francisco,Make sure to bring a carton of cigarettes there.If you’re going to San Francisco,You’re going to findA lot of drug stores there….

But as of Oct. 1, none of them are going to sell cigarettes any more. After that, if you want to buy a pack, you will have to go somewhere else; actually, just about anywhere else that sold cigarettes prior to that.

That kind of lawmaking would have been enough to make the legendary Timothy Leary say: “far out.” Of course, he took an awful lot of LSD.

So what exactly is San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s excuse? Surely, he had to be on something to come to the conclusion that he could make his city healthier by banning the sale of tobacco just in drug stores; but how much of that stuff did he have to feed city council members to make them vote not once, but twice, in favor of the measure?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like San Francisco’s new law has no teeth at all. Just ask any drug retailer that operates stores there—it absolutely bites! But cheap puns aside, the city’s plan to ban cigarette sales exclusively in drug stores is like watching some poor old blind pit bull try to eat: He bites your mailman, he bites your milkman, he bites your neighbor and he bites the cop down the street. Yet somehow he just can’t seem to chew through the bowl of Alpo in front of him to keep himself from starving to death. It is a sad and feeble attempt to try to get people to live healthier lives—at best. At worst, it is just a really stupid idea.

Because the people who get hurt most of all here are the people of San Francisco who smoke. And not because they will now have to suffer the terrible inconvenience of having to go somewhere else to buy their cigarettes; that really shouldn’t be too hard, considering that every OTHER retail outlet that sold cigarettes prior to Oct. 1 will be able to continue to do so, while drug store operators in the city are busy shipping cigarettes—which, of course, already have been stamped for sale in the state of California—to stores located in other parts of the state.

No, it is unfair to the people of San Francisco who smoke because it does less than nothing to make anyone want to quit. So what is the end goal of the city’s decision to ban tobacco sales in drug stores? To improve the health of its citizens or to penalize a select group—and somewhat arbitrarily selected, at that—of shopkeepers? And, why? Because drug stores are supposed to be in the health business? What about supermarket pharmacies or mass merchants like Wal-Mart and Target that operate pharmacies? Are those pharmacies less a part of health care, or are the cigarettes those retailers sell healthier than the cigarettes drug stores sell? Maybe supermarkets shouldn’t be allowed to sell hamburger any more because America is too fat; but Bob’s Big Boy should.

Singling out pharmacy retailers is just a stupid thing to do because pharmacies, and traditional drug stores in particular, also sell an awful lot of smoking-cessation products. They also have healthcare providers working in the store that actually might have a better chance of delivering some education about how to quit smoking and changing someone’s unhealthy lifestyle than, say, that pimply kid at the 7-11 who cleans out the Slurpee machine.

And that’s why I feel bad for the people of San Francisco. Not because they may not be able to buy cigarettes at the drug store after Oct. 1, but because it appears—judging from all this, that is—that they have an idiot for a mayor, and the moron majority controls their city council.

I would say, “put that in your pipe and smoke it,” but you really can’t be sure what those guys are smoking out there, can you?

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Court rules against Watson in Naprelan case

BY Drew Buono

CORONA, Calif. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled that Watson Pharmaceuticals’ naproxen sodium extended-release tablets, a generic version of the pain medication Naprelan, infringes the brand drug manufacturer’s patent, Watson announced Wednesday.

Elan initially brought the suit in October 1998 after Andrx filed an application for a generic version of the drug. In March 2002, the District Court ruled that Elan’s ‘320 patent was invalid. Watson acquired Andrx in November 2006.

In May 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the District Court’s finding of invalidity and remanded the case for further proceedings. In January 2005, Elan filed a related case against Andrx in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging that Andrx’s generic drug infringes the patent and is seeking damages for willful infringement. In late 2005, the parties completed briefing the District Court on the validity of the patent and whether Andrx’s product infringes it, and the matter has been under submission to the District Court since then.

Watson said it intends to appeal the ruling.

Watson’s naproxen sodium tablets had sales of $4 million over the year ending June 30, according to IMS data.

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Medicare officials predict lower 2009 Part D costs than expected

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Monthly premiums for Medicare’s Part D prescription drug program next year will be lower than expected, Medicare officials announced Thursday.

Based on bids submitted by Part D plans, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimated that the average monthly premium that recipients will pay for standard Part D coverage will be $28 – lower than the $44.12 predicted in 2003.

At the same time, it is $3 more than the premium for this year, mainly because of rising drug costs and higher plan estimates for catastrophic coverage and the phase-out of a CMS demonstration project.

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