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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- January 13, 2013

Duke Energy to file for another rate increase - WRAL (Raleigh, NC) - January 8, 2013 -
Duke Energy Corp. has told North Carolina utility regulators that it will ask for another rate increase soon.                         The Gaston Gazette reported ( ) that Duke late last week filed notice with the North Carolina Utilities Commission that it will file for another rate increase early next month.                      The request comes less than a year after regulators approved a 7 percent increase for Duke.               Duke representatives have said for months the company plans to apply for an increase to pay for maintenance and upgrades to its systems.                          Attorney General Roy Cooper has been fighting the increase that was approved last January. The North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments on the challenge in November. Duke had originally requested a 17 percent increase but agreed to the 7.2 percent figure early last year.                        Cooper said Tuesday that he has "real concerns" about the rate increases, which he said produce double-digit profit margins for the company.                     "We believe that the Utilities Commission should have to look at the effect of the profit margin on consumers when considering that profit margin," he said. "We're going to continue to argue this. We're arguing it now in the Progress Energy rate increase. We'll argue it in the next one. Of course, we'll have to wait and see what the North Carolina Supreme Court says."                 Progress Energy, which Duke acquired in July, filed last fall for a 12 percent rate increase, which the company said was its first request for higher rates since 1987.

Are generics really the same as branded drugs? - Fortune through USA Today - Katherine Eban - January 10, 2013 - Consumers are told that generics are just like their name-brand counterparts. More medical professionals are starting to say that's not the case.                      In October the Food and Drug Administration took a highly unusual step: It declared that a generic drug it had previously approved -- a version of the popular antidepressant Wellbutrin -- was not in fact "bioequivalent" to the name-brand version. The FDA withdrew its approval.                          The federal action shook the business. Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA), which marketed the generic in question, has stopped selling it, and other companies are now testing their versions of Wellbutrin at the FDA's request. The episode is bringing momentum to a movement that has been quietly building among many doctors and medical societies that are increasingly willing to ask a question that borders on heresy: Are generics really identical to the branded products they are meant to replicate? To a surprising degree, they say, the answer is no.                        If you're a layperson, this is the way you probably think of generics: They're the exact same products in different packaging; generics companies can sell such medications for a fraction of the cost of the originals because they don't have to spend huge sums on drug development and marketing.                         That apparent miracle explains why more than 80% of all U.S. prescriptions dispensed in 2012 were generic. Using nonbranded medications saved Americans $193 billion this past year, according to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.                               But generic drugs diverge from the originals far more than most of us believe. For starters, it's not as if the maker of the original pharmaceutical hands over its manufacturing blueprint when its patent runs out or is challenged. The patent reveals the components, but it doesn't explain how to make the drug. In reality, manufacturing a generic requires reverse engineering, and the result is an approximation rather than a duplicate of the original.                   The FDA's rules effectively acknowledge that. The agency's definition of bioequivalence is surprisingly broad: A generic's maximum concentration of active ingredient in the blood must not fall more than 20% below or 25% above that of the brand name. This means a potential range of 45%, by that measure, among generics labeled as being the same.                        There are other differences. The generic must contain the same active ingredient as the original. But the additional ingredients, known as excipients, can be different and are often of lower quality. Those differences can affect what's called bioavailability -- the amount of drug that could potentially be absorbed into the bloodstream. As the American Heart Association recently noted, "Some additives traditionally thought to be inert, such as alcohol sugars, cyclodextrans, and polysorbate-80, may alter a drug's dissolution, thereby impacting its bioavailability."

Another infographic — this one from Onlinecolleges — explaining the systematic destruction of America’s middle class.


Look at the numbers below. You don't stand a chance of retiring. Many of us were told that the older generations would retire or at least semi-retire and this would create the room we needed for career advancement and climbing the economic ladder. We were taught that working hard would create opportunity. Well, we have subsequently learned that it is a Dog Eat Dog World and in order to advance you just might have to take out Mom and Pop. Working hard won't guarantee anything, but not working hard guarantees failure. The Rat race will get you nowhere and is nothing but a big lie perpetuated by those in control. You have to think outside the box in order to get ahead. That is the definition of ingenuity, entrepreneurialism, innovation, and SURVIVAL.


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