DARAPRIM – where’s there pain, there’s wealth

Martin Shkreli, a biotech entrepreneur (pictured), bought the American marketing rights to Daraprim, a drug that treats a parasitic infection.  His company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, said it would increase the price of Daraprim in America from $13.50 a pill to $750. On September 22nd, he promised to rethink the price rise,but defended his move, saying that Turing plans to invest in research and development to improve the 62-year-old drug. Doctors expressed scepticism. Some said they needed not a better drug but a cheaper one. The medicine is used to treat toxoplasmosis, an infection that is particularly dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, such as those with AIDS and some cancer patients.

The patent for Daraprim expired long ago and in theory there is nothing to stop another firm producing and selling it under its generic name, pyrimethamine.

In  Britain, Daraprim is sold by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), at a far lower cost of around $20 for 30 pills. GSK sold the rights to market Daraprim in America in 2010 and those rights changed hands again recently, with Turing the buyer.

But Turing is not the only company to have bought the rights to older drugs and raised their prices. Valeant of Canada sharply raised the cost of two heart drugs after acquiring them this year. Horizon Pharma increased the price of a pain-relief tablet, Vimovo, by 597% after buying the rights from AstraZeneca in 2013. Since 2008 the price of all branded drugs (including both patent-protected ones and those whose patents have expired) has risen by 127% in America, compared with an 11% rise in the consumer-price index, reckons Express Scripts, which manages medicines’ costs on behalf of employers and health insurers.

Turing promises to waive the cost of its pills for people who have no health cover, but the move could impose a big price rise on insurers, hospitals and government health schemes. The 13.1% increase in prescription-drug spending in 2014 is already leading to higher premiums for health cover.

Gateway to the Catalan Republic 2015 (Via Lliure cap la República Catalana)

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For the last three years the pro-independence organisations Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Culturala have organised a mas rally (Via Lliure) in Barcelona on September 11, Catalonia’s National Day.

This year (2015) the rally took place along Meridiana Avenue, which stretches from the ‘Parc de la Ciutadella’ where the Catalan Parliament stands, to outside the city. TheVia Lliure cap la República Catalana (‘Gateway to the Catalan Republic’) was 5.2 km-long.

The route was divided into 135 stretches, symbolising the Catalan Parliament. Following this, the president of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), Jordi Sánchez outlined the importance of being registered “not because we fear that the ‘Via Lliure’ won’t be full” but to inform the participants of their position and role during the demonstration.

While last year’s V-shape’s demonstrators dressed in red and yellow, symbolising the colours of the ‘Senyera’, the Catalan flag, this year’s predominant colour was white which symbolises a blank page, a book that citizens have to fill with their wishes for the next country that will be Catalonia.

Different coloured cards in the shape of arrow pointers were located all along the avenue, one for each of the ‘10 concepts’ that have formed the core of ‘Ara és l’hora’ (‘Now is the time’), the ANC and Òmnium Cultural’s summer campaign for the Catalan elections scheduled for the 27th of September. These 10 concepts represent key values that the new independent Catalonia must guarantee. The colours will be distributed as follows: yellow for democracy, blue for regional balance, red for solidarity, sky blue for openness to the world, green for diversity, dark green for sustainability, purple for equality, brown for welfare and social justice, pink for innovation, and orange for culture and education.

The ‘Gateway to the Catalan Republic’ will be divided into 135 stretches, the same number as the total number of representatives sitting in the Catalan Parliament.

The demonstration was officially started at 17:14. 1714 was the year when Barcelona finally succumbed to Bourbon troops, after 14 months of siege. The whole demonstration is supposed to last approximately an hour and a half, including the final speeches that are normally given by the president of the ANC, Jordi Sánchez, and that of Òmnium Cultural, Quim Torra, and other outstanding representatives of civil society. At 17:14, a giant arrow pointer symbolising the way to the Catalan Republic travelled along Meridiana Avenue, starting at Roselló Porcel Street, at the entrance of Barcelona, and going all the way up to ‘Parc de la Ciutadella’, where the Catalan parliament is located.

Anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C’s) had stated that they would try “to put all the possible obstacles” to impede the rally from happening. Ciutadans’ councillor in Barcelona’s City Hall, Carina Mejías, said that the pro-independence rally is “partisan”, only “interests a few” and creates a “split” as it divides Catalan society. “I don’t know why Barcelona has to each year be the stage for partisan harangues. Such events do not fit into the party’s model for Barcelona, she said. National Day (on 12 October) and the Spanish Constitution’s Day (on 6 December) supporting Spain’s unity in Barcelona are adequate and have nothing to do with the division created by the pro-independence demonstrations.”

Thirty people from different countries were invited by Òmnium Cultural to witness the independence movement at Meridiana Avenue in Barcelona. Scottish writer, Irvine Welsh, French-American activist, Susan George, Germany’s foreign affairs advisor, Kai Olaf Lang, and professors such as Michael Keating, Michel Seymour, Bard Fassbender, David Farell and Rogers Brubaker are among those invited by the sovereignty association.

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Harley Days

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Since 2008, Barcelona has hosted Harley Days – the biggest urban event of the Harley Davidson brand in Europe. It lasts a weekend and takes place at Plaza España, near Montjuic Fairground. Harley Davison enthusiasts come from all over the world to participate, and over a million tourists come to watch the free event. Yes, you heard right – it’s free.

I nipped along on Saturday afternoon for this year’s event (Friday 3rd-Sunday 5th July 2015.) Temperatures hit the late nineties. With skin as pure as the driven snow, I barbecued nicely under the watchful eye of the sun. (And that was with factor fifty sun-blocker.) I posed for photographs as I sat on a Harley Davidson which was far bigger than anything I could ever handle.

And it was free (sorry, just love that word.)

There were motorbikes for sale and all the gear that went with it. And of course, no event would be complete without some tacky souvenirs. So I bought a SONS OF ANARCHY Tee shirt! Well, you’ve got to, haven’t you?

I doubt the local chapter of the Hell’s Angels will be quaking in their boots!

Afterwards, I watched a female rock singer called Clara Plath. She was really, really good. Listen to her songs on the internet – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

On Sunday was the big parade of bikes – all sizes, some custom-built. Well worth watching, despite the noise. Here are some photos.

Hope to see you there next year.

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Clara Plath (worth listening to)

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The Oldest Magazine In The World

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The Scots Magazine is a magazine containing articles on subjects of Scottish interest. It is the oldest magazine in the world still in publication although there have been several gaps in its publication history. It has reported on events from the defeat of theJacobites through the Napoleonic wars to the Second World War and on to the creation of the new Scottish Parliament.

It was originally published in January 1739 its first edition being dated Monday 9 February 1739 and publication continued until 1826; at which point sales had declined to such a point that it was withdrawn. However, in 1888 publication resumed under a new owner (S Cowan, Perth) and continued until 1893 when once again it was withdrawn. It was published between 1922 and 1924 as ‘The Scottish Church.’ In 1924 publication as ‘The Scots Magazine’ resumed, this time by the St Andrew’s Society (Glasgow). In 1927 D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd took over and have continued to publish it ever since.

With a monthly average readership of over 259,000 The Scots Magazine is the world’s best-selling Scottish-interest publication. It offers something for everyone: culture, history, the great outdoors – including some of the best photography from some of the country’s best photographers. For Scots at home and abroad, the magazine captures the essence of Scotland with an attractive blend of interesting and in-depth articles.

In 2013, the magazine moved to the new B5 format. This gives the magazine much greater visibility on crowded magazine shelves and liberated designers allowing them to showcase the best Scottish photography.

Hamish McHamish – Scotland’s most famous cat

 

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Hamish McHamish (1999 – 11 September 2014) was a ginger cat that lived with Ms Marianne Baird, a retired BBC producer,.  At the tender age of one year old he decided to leave her and roamed the streets and alleys of St. Andrews, Fife. He did not need money as the residents of that fair city were only too glad to feed him when he appeared on their doorsteps. Though he loved the nomadic life, Ms Bard ensured the ginger cat had a yearly check-up with a vet.

He came to national and international prominence after the publication of a book entitled Hamish McHamish of St Andrews: Cool Cat About Town.

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Hamish built up a following on social media, with a dedicated Facebook page[ and Twitter account set up by fans.

When he passed away at the ripe old age of 14 years old, Flora Selwyn, editor of the St Andrews in Focus magazine, launched a fundraising drive among locals. .£5,000 was raised through public donations and grants from the Community Council, the Community Trust, and the R&A. Local stonemason Colin Sweeney dedicated time to make the plinth and the celebratory event to mark the unveiling is being funded by Fife Council. The statue, which as designed by David Annand, was revealed by the Provost of Fife, Jim Leishman in the town’s Church Square on Saturday 5 April.

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Hamish McHamish, the town cat, is St.Andrew’s answer to Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Bobby,. the Edinburgh Skye terrier reputed to have sat by his owner’s grave daily for 14 years.. He was not commemorated until a year after his death in 1872.

 

Here’s a fiction book about cats – THE HAPPY CAT’S HOME MYSTERIES

Barnes and Noble – http://goo.gl/MPt6Kb

Amazon – http://goo.gl/v42vr4

America’s that way…er, no it isn’t

The Christopher Columbus statue at the end of the Ramblas, Barcelona.

Christopher Columbus (October 1451 – 20 May 1506) was an explorer, navigator, and colonizer, born in the Genoa in northwestern Italy.  Some modern historians have argued that Columbus was not from Genoa, but instead, from Catalonia, Portugal, or Spain.These claims have  been discounted by mainstream scholars. He  completed four voyages  across the Atlantic Ocean which helped establish permanent settlements in South America. In one of his writings, Columbus claims to have gone to the sea at the age of 10. In 1470, the Columbus family moved to Savona, where Domenico took over a tavern. In the same year, Columbus was on a Genoese ship hired in the service of Rene I of Anjou to support his attempt to conquer the Kingdom of Naples.

On his voyages Columbus discovered and named various places.

  •  Montserrat (for Santa María de Montserrate, after the Blessed Virgin of the Monastery of Montserrat, which is located on the Mountain of Montserrat, in Catalonia, Spain),
  •  Antigua(after a church in Seville, Spain, called Santa María la Antigua, meaning “Old St. Mary’s”),
  • Redonda (Santa María la Redonda, Spanish for “St. Mary the Round”, owing to the island’s shape),
  • Nevis (derived from the Spanish Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, “Our Lady of the Snows”, because Columbus thought the clouds over Nevis Peak made the island resemble a snow-capped mountain),
  • Saint Kitts (for St Christopher, patron of sailors and travelers),
  • Saint Eustatius (for the early Roman martyr, St. Eustachius)
  •  Saba (after the Biblical Queen of Sheba)
  • Saint Martin (San Martín), and Saint Crois (from the Spanish Santa Cruz, meaning Holy Cross)

Despite his seamanship, on the plinth he is pointing east. I’m pretty sure America isn’t that way.

Scotland’s First Rapper

Burns Cottage, Alloway

Rabbie Burns, arguably Scotland’s greatest poet and blogger, was born in this  cottage in Alloway on the 25th January 1759.  He blogged about his life experiences through poetry as he wandered around Scotland, womanising and working in various menial jobs.  One famous example is: To a Mouse, where Burns  regrets turning up the mouse in his plough. Incidentally, the poem also contains the words – of mice and men – the title of a book by John Steinbeck.

 

To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough
(1785)

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle.

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An’ fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t.

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s win’s ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turned out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!