But first: listen to the 7-minute trailer for The Asset podcast.  Riveting.

Yes, of course there was collusion.

And — not to embarrass you, but — are you the only progressive in America not to have read Tom Friedman’s column?  (“Trump’s Going to Get Re-elected, Isn’t He?“)  He just might get re-elected if we don’t all read that column.

And in my  ongoing crusade against food waste, I’m pleased to report that the unrefrigerated, unopened 20-ounce package of Kirkland Signature “Tart Montmorency” Dried Cherries recently discovered on a top shelf, and “best before May 4, 2012” (so barely 7 years ago), are fine.  I’ve been eating them all week.

And now on to snake oil, fish oil, super-fish oil, and fat-shaming.

Chris H.:  “I learned about AMRN from your column many years ago and have followed and invested since.  AMRN has a drug, Vascepa, that is a highly purified form of EPA.  It is well tolerated, affordable, and was shown in a 4-year double blind study to save people from heart attacks, strokes, and deaths when paired with a statin.  Wanted to highlight that they are expecting/hoping for FDA approval in September of an expanded indication that would make this a blockbuster drug.  It is already approved as a triglyceride drug and sales are surging 60% YOY.  Stock is currently in the low 20s and will go significantly higher with expansion.  Maybe longtime readers can benefit and use some profits for fairer and more responsible governance?”

→ Remember my two recent “Buy and Hold” columns?  Well, I checked back with Guru.  It might be wise t0 take your triple in this one and sell.  Yes, he says, it may well get FDA approval — but shouldn’t! — and yes, he says, it may get bought out a few points higher — but shouldn’t!

In small part:

. . . In the 1880s, they were hawking snake oil and we laugh at that. Snake oil: meet your fellow fraud, fish oil. And for what it’s worth, you can buy this exact same fish oil over the counter for a fraction of the price. If the FDA approves it, then there is some case to be made that there will be a buyout. Of course, it is fish oil, there isn’t a patent that can block anyone from making the same thing, any pharma company could “patent” a version of this and run a bioequivalency test to show it’s the same and get a quick approval from the FDA, so I don’t see where the long-term franchise (to quote Buffett) comes from. It is also still possible that truth matters a tiny bit to the FDA . . . If so, they should be saying something by August 3. If not, you should assume approval, and the stock probably goes up 3-7 points.

So if you want to get fancy, rather than sell, you could buy some mid-August puts to lock in most of your gain, if it craters.  Or sell (especially if you hold it in a tax-sheltered account) and take a little of the profit to buy some October calls.  But I’ve never done great with fancy.

Meanwhile, from the depths of the Antarctic comes a super-nutrient,”8X More Potent Than Fish Oil That Could…FIX Your Heart, Memory, And Joints In As Little As 7 DAYS!

Click the link and see if it doesn’t intrigue you, if you have a heart, memory, and joints.

“Presumably quackery, given the marketing,” I wrote my pal Wipperman, “But what do you think?”

“Quackery indeed,” he responded, “but let’s dive in.  Do you have a favorite corporate logo? Mine is Cochrane‘s. Who in the name of Sackett (the founder of evidence-based medicine) is Cochrane? Well, it’s the organization that utilizes the most powerful tools in medicine to ask these sorts of questions, and nicely summarizes the results. The Cochrane logo is actually the tool itself. It’s called a ‘Forest Plot.’ It is the way researchers summarize the results of multiple clinical trials to make a definitive conclusion about some question in medicine. This is the best tool we have to gain new knowledge about whether some intervention works.  (E.g., ‘Do Omega 3 fatty acids benefit my memory?’)

Here is their description of their logo. Basically, back in the day, it was unknown whether corticosteroids given to women about to give premature birth would save the life of the baby. There were some hints that this would work, but the clinical trials never panned out, and doctors therefore never adopted this practice. Then somebody pooled together the data from multiple clinical trials into a ‘systematic review,’ and determined that indeed, corticosteroids are good for saving the babies. Each horizontal line in the logo is a clinical trial from this actual study, and while each trial independently did not show an effect, collectively they did show a positive benefit.  The result is that little diamond at the bottom of the logo.

“Why bother telling you this? Because we’ve run a boatload of clinical trials on Omega-3s (that’s the magic that this dude is claiming is in Krill Oil).  In one recent systematic review, they looked at 79 clinical trials (!) and found virtually no benefit to Omega-3 intake.

“The response from the ‘Dr.’ in the offer you sent — who does not appear to have a PhD or MD, nor as far as I can tell, any training in medical biochemistry or evidence-based medicine — would be that these people weren’t taking his super-potent Omega 3s, and you have to buy his stuff in order to actually see a benefit. I would simply say, go eat a fish and exercise, and you’ll be fine. If he’s that passionate about his product, and there really is that much evidence of a benefit, perhaps he could use some of his profits to run a clinical trial of his own. That is the only tool we have right now to show that there is indeed a benefit to some intervention — so he can put some skin in the game, and fund one himself.”

→ And yet, if I had heart problems or joint problems or — what’s the third thing this stuff is supposed to fix? the Energy Department? — I might not wait for the clinical trial.

Such is the power of hope.

Marissa: “Re your post on fat shaming, here’s a study suggesting that kids whose parents encourage them to lose weight ending up fatter.   As a chubby person with one chubby and one thin kid, this is the stuff of my nightmares. Because I know that my son’s life will be easier both physically and socially if he doesn’t grow up overweight, but I also don’t want him to grow up hating himself if it ends up happening anyway.”

→ It is, for sure, a tough one. I love Obama’s mantra – “be kind and be useful” – and this problem challenges us to find a way to be both.  If kids grow up being offered healthy food (fruit instead of Twinkies) . . . and forced to walk or bike when it’s safe and practical . . . and if they get gentle “I’ll-love-you-no-matter-what-but-I-think-you’ll-have-an-even-happier-life-if-you-get-into-the-right-habits” advice . . . could that be a balance of kind and useful?

Also: anybody here tried SweetDefeat?

Have a great week-end!



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