Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Sep 2, 2016 in Stuff You Should Know

Maker of EpiPen Faces Harsh Criticism

Emergency Epinephrine. ©Zoonar GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo. MHE World.

Emergency Epinephrine. ©Zoonar GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo.

Millions of Americans suffer from severe food allergies, many of them children. To combat a reaction that could lead to anaphylactic shock, many carrying an EpiPen. This is an “auto-injector” filled with the hormone epinephrine. While epinephrine itself is not considered an expensive drug, the single dose of a regulated (based on the weight of the individual) amount of the drug in a spring-loaded device makes the EpiPen a crucial item for those with particular allergies. Because of the time-sensitive nature of administering epinephrine, those who use the EpiPen usually have more than one (for use at home, school, and on-person).

Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that makes the EpiPen, recently angered many of its customers. First, it raised its price by more than 450 percent (from $100 for a 2-pack in 2008 to around $600 a piece now). Then it was reported that the company’s CEO, Heather Bresch, authorized herself a 671 percent pay raise. The company has received a wave of bad publicity, including a public reprimand from actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who previously endorsed the product. In response, Mylan said that it would take steps to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for un- or under-insured patients. It added that “all involved must also take steps to meaningfully address the U.S. healthcare crisis.”

What Do You Think? Do you think it’s fair and/or legal for Mylan to charge whatever they wish for the EpiPen? Pick a side and defend your answer with at least three points.

Flooding Aftermath in Louisiana

In mid-August, relentless rains fell for 72-straight hours throughout southern Louisiana. Thirteen people were killed and an estimated 146,000 homes damaged. Twenty of the state’s 64 parishes (districts) have been declared disaster areas, which makes them eligible for assistance. The National Guard has been deployed in the region to engage in search and rescue missions. While the storm was not given a name (a designation usually given to tropical storms), it generated three times more rain than 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

In the wake of the storms, around 265,000 children have been delayed in starting school, due both to damage to buildings, as well as the displacement of students and teachers. Reportedly, many homeowners affected did not have flood insurance because they did not live in areas considered “high flood risk areas.” President Obama, who visited the devastated area on August 23, received criticism for not arriving in the area sooner. (He was vacationing with his family on Martha’s Vineyard.) Louisiana Governor John Bel Edward defended Obama, saying the preparation required to receive a president was not realistic in the first days after the storms.

Dig Deeper Do some research on the relief efforts. Find out what organizations (government and other) have been most (and least) effective in providing assistance.

Earthquake Rocks Central Italy

Shortly after the storms in Louisiana, across the world, an earthquake shook central Italy. An initial quake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale hit near the town of Amatrice on August 24, followed by at least 200 aftershocks. The three regions primarily affected were Lazio, Marche and Umbria, but effects were felt as far away as Rome and Naples. There were at least 241 people killed and an unconfirmed number are still considered missing. Some of the “historic centers” of some of the towns, with buildings dating back to the Middle Ages, have been reduced to rubble.

Addressing the concerns of delayed reconstruction that happened after a devastating 2009 earthquake, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promised to begin rebuilding soon. In the meantime, temporary camps are being set up for at least 1,000 misplaced residents and stranded tourists. Rescue efforts are being hindered because the area is mountainous, with many parts accessible only by small, winding country roads.

Dig Deeper Since 2014, Facebook offered a “safety check feature” in times of disaster and crisis. This feature allows users to locate loved ones and determine if they are safe. If you are not familiar with this service, do some research and write a brief “how to” checklist on how to use it.

KFC Secret Recipe No Longer Secret?

A reporter for The Chicago Tribune, working on a travel article about the place that made Harland Sanders (better known as the Colonel) famous, recently visited Corbin, Kentucky. While there, he made a visit to Sander’s nephew, Joe Ledington, who showed the reporter a family scrapbook and pointed out the handwritten recipe for the restaurant’s famous (and secret) blend of 11 spices. For years, the “Original Recipe” was highly guarded and, allegedly, no one in the company knew the exact formulation.

Until now.

KFC’s leaked recipe is an example of a Trade Secret. In business, this is considered anything that gives a company a “competitive edge” over its competitors. Some famous examples include Coca-Cola, Twinkie, and Thomas’ English Muffins. But it’s not all food. The lubricant WD40 had a unique formula it keeps under wraps; and Auto-Tune, a piece of software once used for “creative effects” is now a must-have tool for producers to fix problems with vocalists. In response to the breach at KFC, the company made a statement that what Ledington had in his scrapbook was not the real thing.

What Do You Think? Was it fair for the Tribune reporter to print the KFC recipe? Why or why not? Support your answer with at least two points. Do you think the company has the right to sue Ledington for his negligence?