Why Drug Companies are Suddenly Under Seige?

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AMIDST all the talk of impeachment, there was
a hint recently of a crack in the national political divide.
Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged that
Democrats and Republicans were talking to one another
about the soaring drug prices, although the president
says it is a smokescreen for the Democrats’ real agenda:
For the pharmaceutical industry, these have been trying
times, as they seem to go from one crisis to the next. It is as
if America has suddenly woken up to the outrageous profits
that the industry records and the fact that Americans
are among the highest payers for pharmaceuticals in the
For years, the drug industry more or less fixed prices as
they saw fit. There was no rhyme or reason as to why certain
essential drugs were as much as 75% higher than they
were in some of our neighboring countries or in Europe.
Suddenly, the industry has come under the microscope
and a number of states have begun to regulate prices.
Just as sudden was the development of a new national
opioid crisis and mounting litigation. There was some
comfort in the industry with Obamacare, but it too has
come under increased attack from the current administration
and from Republicans in Congress. Even Democrats
now admit that change is inevitable.
At some point there will be a push in Congress to regulate
drug prices. There are even calls to force the dispensing
of labeled drugs as opposed to the increased popularity
of the cheaper generic drugs. Big drug companies suddenly
find themselves in a highly competitive market as generic drug companies surface.

Even Amazon is creating waves about entering
the health care market. By 2014, 85% of
all prescription drug purchases were generic
drugs. Amazon is supposedly negotiating with
such companies as Novartis and Mylan, which
could further push generics over the leading
label drug manufacturers.
You could say that the drug companies are
becoming increasingly desperate. Witness the
giant Allergan drug company, which negotiated
with the Mohawk tribe to take over all IP rights
for one of its most profitable drugs. Washington
nowadays is full of drug company lobbyists who
are preparing for the worst: Congressional regulation
of prices. What is at stake is their ageold
free ride as far as profits are concerned.
The drug industry was further shaken by the
bankruptcy of Purdue Pharma, which is part of
a deal to settle thousands of lawsuits alleging
that the company misled doctors and the public
as it promoted its opioid painkillers, including
its blockbuster OxyContin, and helped to ignite
the opioid epidemic. The bankruptcy filing
should freeze the lawsuits against the drugmaker
and likely result in the claims being shifted
into bankruptcy court, according to legal
experts. Such a process is meant to ensure that a company that declares bankruptcy can preserve its value while it gets more time
to negotiate with every entity to which
it owes money. It’s also meant to ensure
that all those creditors will somehow be
denied their claims.
Now the Wall Street Journal reports
that Endo International plc, Johnson &
Johnson and other drugmakers that face
the same litigation over the opioid crisis
are exploring a way to settle their cases
by participating in Purdue Pharma LP’s
bankruptcy. Five drug makers battling
the cases — Endo, J&J, Teva Pharmaceutical
Industries Ltd, Allergan plc and
Mallinckrodt plc — are looking to enact
a global settlement of the litigation that
would be implemented through Purdue’s
Chapter 11 case. The mechanism,
if successful, would allow the companies
to contribute money into a trust set up
through the bankruptcy in exchange for
a complete release from liability, according
to the report.
But if the drug companies appear
to be under siege now, more is certainly
coming. According to The New York Times, “the administration and leading
members of Congress have also been discussing
legislative proposals, including
negotiating directly with companies to
set price caps on some drugs, and placing
a limit on out-of-pocket spending
by Medicare beneficiaries. These government
efforts pack a broad populist
appeal, particularly with older Americans,
who remain one of the nation’s
most reliable voting blocs.”
The country’s new fledgling obsession
with socialism has taken a page from the
drug crisis, arguing for national health
insurance and the like. But the truth is
that many socialist models of “health
care for all” have failed miserably, with
some of the most chronic diseases either
going untreated or undertreated. Shortages
of medicine are not uncommon, and
remarkably it has always been the U.S.
that has come to the rescue, supplying
essential drugs.
Perhaps the pharma industry was too
greedy making higher margins than any
other industry. In hearings before Congress,
the pharma spokesmen argued that the high costs of research and development
were eating away at much of the profits. But after
everything is said and done, they admitted that profit
margins exceeded 20%. If you read between the lines,
drug companies are really trying to figure out a way
to return to the days when they were not under much
scrutiny and the world was able to “fargin” them their
profits. It seemed that when it comes to health, people
are ready to forgive the greed as opposed to any other
But the return to “normal” is no longer on the horizon
for the pharma industry. The cost of drugs and
the huge profits recorded by the industry are likely
to become a key campaign issue in 2020. There is no
longer the prospect of sugarcoating an industry that
has largely taken America for a ride. In 2016, the U.S.
spent 17.8% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on
health care, while the average health-care spending
in other relatively high-income countries was 11.5%
of GDP. The average American family spends 10.1% of
income just on health insurance premiums —almost
$11,000 per person.
It was inevitable that the country would one day
look to the drug companies to bring some kind of balance
to the American overspending on health care,
particularly drugs. Now with the opioid crisis, that
day has come more rapidly, with a day of reckoning
not far behind.

Why Kosher Supermarkets are a Target?

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In 2015, the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris was the target of terrorists who went on a shooting spree, killing four shoppers. Last week it was Jersey City where three people were killed.. In Paris, Montreal and Jerusalem kosher restaurants were targets of terrorism in the past. To these cowards, a kosher restaurant is a religious edifice and in many ways like a synagogue. The important symbolism of kosher is not lost on these deranged individuals.

The Hyper Cacher store has long since reopened in what can only be described as an act of defiance. Although closed for now, we are certain that at some point the kosher market in Jersey City will reopen. We pray and hope that in this Chanukah season that no more bloodshed will come to our kosher community anywhere in the world as they make sure that their customers are able to obtain good kosher food.

Refrigerator Do’s and Don’ts

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It was getting late and once again I was left with the usual dilemma; wanting to go to bed but having a pot of hot soup waiting for the fridge. They say a watched pot never boils, but in my case, it was the opposite. The watched pot just wasn’t cooling down. I finally ran out of patience, stuck it in the fridge and ran to bed.

How many of you just cringed? Everyone knows not to put hot food in the fridge.

But was I actually wrong? What’s the worst that can happen?

You don’t have to worry about overheating your fridge and causing the food to spoil. Your fridge can handle hot temperatures (It’s stronger than it looks.) The issue is with your food sitting at the wrong temperature for too long. Things can get dangerous. Bacteria tend to grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

So the real question is: Will your food cool down quickly enough to reach a safe temperature in the fridge?

Below are some TIPS to help your food cool faster and stay fresher in the fridge.

  1. Divide the food into a bunch of small containers to speed up the cooling process.
    I know this sounds inconvenient. Who wants to wash extra dishes? But if you will have to waste time waiting for your huge pot to cool, the few minutes of washing dishes is worth your while. Using wide, shallow containers will be the most efficient.
  2. Stick it in an ice-water bath.
    This sounds like too much effort, but it works. Your hot food will cool much faster, enabling you to get on with your life. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes and place the containers of food inside.
  3. Cooked food should only sit out for around two hours.
    After that, you should transfer it to its new home (aka the fridge). Don’t let it sit on the counter for longer than that or the bacteria can grow.
  4. Once you refrigerate it, make sure it’s covered.
    Sounds obvious, but make sure the lid to the container is secure or the foil is wrapped tightly. You don’t want fridge-flavored soup, do you? And besides, spills can be easily prevented if things were covered properly in the first place.

Okay so my food is finally cooled, and refrigerated, I can forget about it now. Right?

Not exactly. Food can’t last in the fridge forever. (That’s what freezers are for.)

The food should only be placed in the fridge if you’ll be eating it within the next few days. If it won’t be eaten within the next 3-4 days, then into the freezer it goes. Each food has a different shelf life, as I’m sure you’re aware. Here’s a sampling of the fridge life of some items:

  • Raw ground meats and stew meat and poultry and fish: 1-2 days
  • Cooked meat, poultry, fish, pizza: 3-4 days
  • Raw meat roasts, steak, opened deli meat: 5 days
  • Hot dogs, yogurts and other processed foods have a much longer refrigeration life. They can last more than a week.

When in doubt, throw it out. That leftover slice of pie that’s looking suspiciously green, even if it’s only two days old, can be dumped. Trust your instincts.

You should constantly check your fridge so you can catch those leftovers before their time is up. It’s such a shame to throw out food that was perfectly fine the day before.

For those leftovers that you quickly have to get rid of, has recipes you can use to turn them into a fresh, delicious dish.


The Ultimate Salt Smackdown!

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Ever wonder about the differences between the many varieties of salts?

There’s table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, Himalayan Pink, Cyprus Black Lava… it can feel like the options are endless.

All the salts out there can be confusing, but here’s a sweet secret: as far as chemical composition goes, all salts are virtually identical.

Scientifically, salt is always sodium chloride, or NaCl. Although different varieties of salt may also include additives or trace amounts of minerals, the chemical makeup of salt is always the same.

For culinary purposes, though, it’s the size and shape of salt that can make the difference in a dish.

Here’s a rundown of the 3 most common salts, and when to use them:


What It Is: The most commonly-used salt, table salt is the finely-processed salt you’ll find in salt shakers.

Pros: Easily measurable, consistently-sized, and the most common.

Cons: Table salt is the most processed salt, and contains additives. Some say the flavor is not as pure as other salts, especially if iodine is added. Also, due to the ultra-fine crystals, there is a higher chance of accidentally oversalting your food.

Best for:  Baking. Also works great in soups and stews.

Additives: Yes. To prevent clumping, anticaking agents are added (examples are sodium aluminosilicate or magnesium carbonate). Also, iodine — an essential mineral that many people do not get sufficient amounts of in their daily diet — is often added for nutritional purposes.

Measurement Details: Because of the tiny, finely-packed crystals, one teaspoon of table salt does not equal one teaspoon of other salts; table salt can actually be as twice as dense as other salt varieties — that means if you use kosher salt instead of table salt, you may need twice as much in a recipe! Always be cautious before making any salt substitutions.


What It Is: With its large, irregular surface area, kosher salt has been used historically in the kashering process to draw blood out of meat (hence, the name “kosher” salt).

Pros: Kosher salt is a favorite of chefs. Since the coarse granules are easy to sprinkle and large enough to see, kosher salt gives you greater control over seasoning. And since there is no added iodine, kosher salt has a completely pure flavor. It also has a crunchy mouthfeel, which works well as a finishing salt.

Cons: Doesn’t dissolve as easily as table salt, and can give an uneven, sporadic saltiness to foods, especially baked goods.

Best for: Brining, curing, pickling, as a finishing salt, and any time you need a controlled sprinkle of salt.

Additives: Most often, no. (Some brands may contain anti-caking agents. To be sure of purity, check the ingredient panel; it should have SALT as the only ingredient.)

Measurement Details: Kosher salt comes in different shapes, which can affect the way it measures out. Diamond Crystal, the preferred brand of chefs, has a pyramidal structure, while the granules in Morton are flatter. Measure salts by weight (instead of volume) to get the most consistent result. Always be cautious before making any salt substitutions.


What It Is: An unprocessed, coarse salt that is collected from evaporated sea water.

Pros: The craggy granules lend a salty and surprising flavor explosion to foods (think: sea salt caramels). Because of its natural source, sea salt contains trace minerals that may add a unique flavor to foods depending on where it has been harvested from.

Cons: Not the best for baking or in any recipe which requires a consistently salty flavor throughout.

Best for: Use in a salt grinder, and as a finishing salt to add a final burst of flavor to foods such as meats, fish, vegetables, and desserts.

Additives: No. However, specialty sea salts can be smoked, flavored, and colored with added ingredients.

Measurement Details: Sea salt comes in many grain sizes (from powder-fine to extra-coarse), each size useful for a different application. Always be cautious before making any salt substitutions.

Written by Lubicom for