Verio, which hosts this web site, lost power at its Boca Raton data center as Wilma swept through. Our home lost power, too, but, unlike theirs, our back-up emergency generator worked. Sorry if you missed yesterday. Here’s today:

THAT NEW CAR SMELL

‘That new car smell,’ I’ve long held, ‘is the most expensive fragrance in the world.’ Now we learn that ‘recent research links it to a toxic cocktail of harmful chemicals’ as well (thanks, Thor). The smell, it seems, ’emanates largely from chemicals that leach from glues, paints, vinyls and plastics in the passenger compartment.’ Japanese auto makers are hard at work on the problem. But in the meantime, you have two reasons to buy your cars used.

GOLD

I’ve long held, also, that digging for gold is a waste. After all, gold’s value lies largely in its scarcity. Digging more only makes it less scarce. (We have more than enough already for our industrial needs.) But now, as readers of yesterday’s New York Times front page know, it turns out there is another reason not to dig for it – the environmental cost. ‘Consider a ring,’ write the authors of the Times piece. ‘For that one-ounce of gold, miners dig up and haul away 30 tons of rock and sprinkle it with diluted cyanide, which separates the gold from the rock. . . . [Some] gold mines, have become the near-equivalent of nuclear waste dumps that must be tended in perpetuity.’

Through dumb luck, Charles and I went with platinum. (Well, first I went with silver, bought off a sidewalk card table, ten bucks each, but that went only so far.) Now one of you can write in and let me know that to produce an ounce of platinum, entire ecospheres must be destroyed.

NTMD

Last week 595 BiDil prescriptions were written. That sounds like a lot – nearly 12 prescriptions in each of the 50 states. But if each prescription is for 180 pills and the company gets its full $1.80 price per pill, that would be sales just shy of $200,000 for the week. The problem is that the company has projected expenses of around $2 million a week . . . and that Wall Street analysts have projected sales of $10 million for the quarter just ended and $20 million for the quarter we’re in now. Twelve weeks at $200,000 a week falls well shy of $10 million, let alone $20 million.

Of course, none of this matters if BiDil sales begin to rocket. But while they are likely to rise a good bit, as more new patients begin taking BiDil and those already taking it go to the pharmacy for refills, it’s not at all clear they will rise anywhere near enough. At the end of the day, BiDil is comprised of two widely prescribed generics readily available at about one-sixth the price. And while it’s one thing to pay $8 for a bottle of genuine Bayer-brand aspirin versus $1.29 for the generic – who cares?* – it’s another to spend $2,500 a year on BiDil instead of $400 on its two components. Especially when, if you’re taking BiDil, you’re probably on five or ten other drugs as well.

One of the firms that follow Nitromed, SG Cowen, recently opined: ‘IMS Health data suggest Q3 BiDil end-user sales will fall far short of Street estimates, while the drug’s ability to meet longer-term consensus numbers remains uncertain.’

With the stock closing last night at $17.80, the company has sales of around $200,000 a week, expenses projected at around $2 million a week, and a market capitalization of about $540 million. Don’t sell your puts.

*I do.

THE FLU

One drug that is selling like crazy is Tamiflu. ‘Despite warnings from disease experts, nonprofit organizations and its own consultants, ‘reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ‘the United States has lowballed its orders for Tamiflu, the only antiviral drug believed to be effective against bird flu, choosing to stockpile enough to protect 2 percent of its population rather than the 25 percent chosen by other countries and recommended by the World Health Organization.’

Yes, but we cut taxes dramatically for the rich and appropriated $223 million for a bridge to an island with 50 people on it – you can’t do everything. It’s a matter of priorities. That’s what Democrats just don’t understand.

Tomorrow: More Stuff to Read

 

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