November 15, 2004

RFID and Pharmaceuticals

Where has your drug been? Your pharmacist may be able to tell you in complete detail, though you won't be able to verify the info yourself. Yet. (Article).
WASHINGTON - The makers of the impotency drug Viagra and the painkiller OxyContin said Monday they will add radio transmitters to bottles of their pills to fight counterfeiting.

The technology will allow the medicines to be tracked electronically from production plant to pharmacy, a development the Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) said is an important tool to combat the small but growing problem of drug counterfeiting.

Shipments of OxyContin bottles with the transmitters will begin this week to two large customers, Wal-Mart and wholesaler H.D. Smith, the drug manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, announced.
GlaxoSmithKline's on board, too - in development. As the transmitter chips become more affordable, their use is likely to be more prevalent. Wal-Mart's really big on this, and, if you're not a technophile, so is Mobil. Those Speed Passes that link to your credit card? Yep, you guessed it - same thing.
An FDA (news - web sites) report earlier this year concluded that radio transmitters should lead the way in fighting drug counterfeiting. But the Bush administration declined to order pharmaceutical companies to adopt the technology or other measures to combat the problem.

1 Still, administration officials said they expect widespread use of RFID by 2007.

In the late 1990s, the FDA conducted an average of five investigations of counterfeit drugs per year. Since 2000, that figure has risen to more than 20 investigations per year. Last year, federal officials stalked counterfeit versions of Procrit, which helps people with cancer and AIDS (news - web sites) combat anemia, and Lipitor (news - web sites), a cholesterol-busting drug. The fake Lipitor prompted the recall of more than 150,000 bottles in 2003.

The RFID tags look like ordinary labels but are really computer chips with antennas wrapped around them. The tag works like a passport, picking up a notation at each stage of the distribution chain when the chip is activated. Sensors at distribution centers use radio waves to activate the tags, which are electronically read and stamped with a record of where they have been.

A counterfeit drug would have no such record.

Federal officials worked through the kinks in a $3 million pilot project that included pharmaceutical manufacturers Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. and Wyeth and such retailers as CVS Corp. and Rite Aid Corp.


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November 13, 2004

Dream a Little Dream

Not feeling too well upon awakening at 5:15 a.m. yesterday (headache), I went back to bed and slept until nearly 8. And here's what happened in my subconscious.

My family and I were gathered in Springfield, MO at someone's house, but not my mother's. It was a gift-giving occasion, probably Christmas. My mother gave me a photo book with pictures of me growing up - pictures I'd never seen before. I decided to walk home (to my mother's house) from the event. Not sure why.

The sky was ominous on the way. Out of nowhere, many - somewhere from 18 to 30 - tornadoes appeared on the horizon. Fearful, I took cover in a ditch.

As the tornadoes approached, it was quickly apparent that they were NOT tornadoes. They were lime green helicopters, and they were attacking. Suddenly, I was not alone but in a crowd of people and we were being taken prisoner by our attackers - the military from Great Britain.

The British soldiers wore lime green t-shirts and jean shorts. I'm not sure how I knew they were British.

Somehow I must've escaped because the dream shifted. I was then in a room with James Bond and a blond woman (whom I did not recognize). I was dating James Bond, you see (the Pierce Brosnan iteration). And I knew and had experienced the great British invasion. Someone must've discovered the location of Mr. Bond and company, because we were suddenly attacked by rushing snipers (why snipers would rush...I dunno. I must be playing too much Unreal Tournament). Fortunately, we were behind bars (didn't notice that before) and somehow able to hide. No one was injured in the sniper attack.

A member of the attacking party tried to firebomb us, but we were all able to quickly get behind the blast door (where did that come from?) and huddle around a large ice-cube driven device. Safe again.

The next attack was with a long device that looked like pruning shears, but they fit through the bars, and the user nearly caught me by the nose (I believe that was the inteded use for the implement). Again all of us were safe.

The next attack was the final straw for my relationship with Mr. Bond, though. The attackers captured my cat Ajax and were going to kill him. It was there that I lost it and began screaming. I somehow left - hopefully with the cat.

Doesn't make much sense, does it? But I guess the moral of the story is: don't mess with my cats.


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Born in a Small Town

I've been away a town where the only hotel didn't have Internet access, so sorry for the blank page.

The town was about the size of Sandusky, MI, which is where I spent years 7 to 11 1/2. It was a place where you could ride your bike to the library (unsupervised...I often did) and to piano lessons. In 3rd or 4th grade, I was old enough (and safe enough) to be left alone a couple of hours after school with a list of chores and a longer list of rules.

And this town had the small-town friendly thing going on, too. I've been in urban or demi-urban areas long enough that I'd forgotten what that was. EVERYONE said hello. People (okay, more men) looked you over curiously because you But they were friendly - oh were they friendly.

I learned about strangers' cats (and talked about my own) and chatted it up with a couple of airport employees about various things (including the Packers; I was in Wisconsin, after all).

But I'm home 2 days now and back to my citywary self. You don't acknowledge others and make eye contact - you just do your thing and get it done. Advantages to both.


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November 03, 2004

A Nation Divided?

Time this week mentions that on November 3rd the winner will need to unite the nation he helped to divide. I ask you, though, looking at the electoral votes that are locked in, perusing the red and blue, and then comparing that against 2000 and Bush/Gore, where's the the major change in these past four years. How do you define a "divided nation"?

The majority of the states that were Bush states in 2000 are Bush states in 2004. No real time to research the flippers, but I know New Hampshire is a Kerry state where it was previously a Bush state.

The middle of the country does seem to think - as a whole - differently than the coasts. Is this new? I'd say not. Perhaps a better argument would be that the vehemence with which we adhere to our respective standpoints as Kerry or Bush supporters may be heightened when in comparison to presidential political following in years past (voter turnout is a good metric for that), but dividing the country? Naa - I'm sure that happened long ago but was less in the front and center.

I offer the same thoughts to a Bush presidency as I would to a Kerry presidency. May the next four years be fruitful, peaceful, and full of growth and promise. May our enemies be fearful and silent.


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November 02, 2004


I just spent a near perfect evening with my husband. If President Bush secures a victory this evening, it'll top it off.

We went to Cafe Napoli in Clayton to celebrate my 13 years since cancer (as of yesterday, November 1st). I had three lovely glasses of the house Merlot (and have felt like singing ever since) and half an entree of chicken parmagiana. I also had a berry tart for dessert (and a bunch of water and a tasty spinach salad). Mmmm.

Then we went book shopping at the Clayton library. There is little else that I enjoy more than book shopping. The St. Louis County libraries offer hardbacks for sale at the whopping price of 50 cents each. Our closest library offers them for 25 cents - what a bargain! I picked up two books and a DVD for $2. Kinda offset the rather expensive dinner.

If you're a St. Louis area reader, I highly recommend Cafe Napoli. It meets my #1 criteria, which is non-smoking, and it is one very nice high-end restaurant. We dropped quite a bit of change, and I'm happy to do it again in a few months when it's not a special occasion and I have to paperrocksscissors with Brian about who is drinking and who is driving.

Just thought I'd share my happy mood.


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