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December 12th, 2017

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ILeading Economic Indicators

News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

By News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd

Published Feb. 1, 2016

ILeading Economic Indicators

Dr. Raymond Schinazi was a federal government employee when he led the team that discovered sofosbuvir, which completely cures hepatitis C patients with an 84-pill regimen, but, as he recently told CBS News, he only worked for the government "7/8th's" of the time -- and, conveniently, it was during the other 1/8th that he found sofosbuvir. He admits now that he made $400 million selling his sofosbuvir company in 2012 to Gilead Sciences, which famously set sofosbuvir's price for 84 pills to $84,000. Now, the Department of Veterans Affairs, with 233,000 war vets with hep-C, tells Congress that it needs much more money, even though Gilead has "cut" the VA's price in half (to $42,000 per treatment, or $9.66 billion). (In a 2013 medical journal, Dr. Schinazi revealed that sofosbuvir could be manufactured for about $17 a pill, or $1,400 for an entire treatment.) [CBS News, 12-1-2015]

Famously, of course, no central characters from big banks went to jail for crashing the economy and causing thousands to lose their homes and jobs, but the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission seem rather proud that at least they pressured several banks to pay the government billions of dollars in civil-case settlements. However, the activist group U.S. PIRG revealed in December that of the 10 largest such federal settlements, where banks and corporations paid a total of $80 billion, more than half was characterized as tax-deductible. (In addition, of course, all of the $80 billion was ultimately paid by the banks' and corporations' stockholders rather than by wrongdoing employees.) [New York Times, 12-3-2015]

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