1. It’s Wednesday, August 24, 2016. It’s 76 days until the election.

Of all the disasters that can befall us on this planet, earthquakes rank among the most capricious.

Yes, we know where the major fault lines lie. And Italy, devastated by this morning’s quake, is as prone to them as any place in the world.

But we have no idea when and how hard they’ll hit. They’re not like hurricanes, which we can track for days and warn people to get out of the way.

I suppose we could tell people not to live in earthquake-prone areas. A lot of folks avoid the whole state of California for that reason.

And yet, people choose to live where the ground tends to shake. For whatever reasons. And there’s nothing they can do when their devil’s bargain goes sour, and the lives they’ve created are reduced to rubble.

So today is a sad day. At this writing, there are at least 73 people dead, hundreds more injured, many still trapped in the ruins of what were gorgeous villages.

The people in the area will most likely rebuild their communities, because that’s what they’ve done for hundreds of years. They’re also Italians, which makes them a little hard-headed – I can say that. We can only wish them the best, and mourn those lost in a random moment when the earth shook.

2. If you know or – in my case – love someone who needs to carry an EpiPen, you understand that there’s no price too high for these potentially life-saving devices.

But that’s because I’m willing to go into bankruptcy so that I have the peace of mind that, should my wife ever need the epinephrine injection to save her life, she’s got it. A lot of folks who need – or whose kids need – these devices can’t or won’t do that.

Unfortunately, you know who else understands this. Mylan Labs, which makes the EpiPen. It has jacked up the price for a two-pack of the injection devices to more than $600 from about $100 less than a decade ago.

Now I know how inflation works. Using the government’s Consumer Price Index inflation calculator, something that cost $100 in 2007 should cost a little more than $116 this year. 

So, basically, EpiPens have risen more than 300 times faster than everything else.

Does that seem logical?

So the people at Mylan have a little explaining to do. It’s good to see that members of Congress from both parties are interested in getting their – and our – questions answered about this.

Maybe there’s something about the ingredients of epinephrine, or the composition of the injectable device itself, that warrants price increases this steep.

But if this is just a Martin Shkreli-style money grab, then Mylan needs to get the demonization it deserves. Hopefully, starting with its stock, which is down more than 7% in the past five trading days.

The rest of the pharmaceutical industry needs to show Mylan the back of its hand, too. Because all this is going to do is strengthen the hand of those who want to find ways to bring down drug prices that won’t make the industry happy at all.

Please don’t give me the crap about free markets and risk-taking and insurance coverage and fiduciary duties to shareholders. That’s not going to cut it with a family whose kid will die if it can’t afford access to an EpiPen.

At some point in this freaking century, the greed has to stop. Hopefully, the EpiPen Scandal of 2016 will help do that.


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