The head of a US pharmaceutical company has defended his company’s decision to raise the price of a 62-year-old medication used by Aids patients by over 5,000%. Turing Pharmaceuticals acquired the rights to Daraprim in August. CEO Martin Shkreli has said that the company will use the money it makes from sales to research new treatments. The drug treats toxoplasmosis, a parasitic affliction that affects people with compromised immune systems. After Turing’s acquisition, a dose of Daraprim in the US increased from $13.50 (£8.70) to $750. The pill costs about $1 to produce, but Mr Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager, said that does not include other costs like marketing, manufacturing and distribution, which have increased dramatically in recent years.
Solar panels and wind turbines are everywhere these days, but the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Meaning, the more panels and turbines you build, the more you need a backup for rainy days (literally). Storing excess solar and wind energy would be ideal, but conventional batteries wear out quickly, sometimes catch fire, often leak toxic crud and leave behind heavy metal waste when they go. That leaves unconventional batteries — say, power cells built out of something cheap, plentiful and nonflammable that’s also utterly nontoxic. Maybe, since we’re dreaming here, even safe enough to eat. Make that, safe enough to eat and drink, and somewhere Jay Whitacre’s ears perk up. For the past five years, the Carnegie Mellon professor and a team of engineers at his startup, Aquion Energy, have been developing a long-lived, eco-friendly and inexpensive battery out of nothing more than salt water and other simple components. This isn’t a battery that will juice your phone or your car, at least not directly; instead, it’s intended for big power farms that could soak up excess electricity during the day — for instance, from home solar systems — and then shoot it back out at night when the sun’s down. The French consulting firm Yole Développement figures this “stationary storage” market could be a $13.5 billion opportunity by 2023, compared with less than $1 billion this year.
The world’s poor farmers are at the greatest risk when it comes to the negative effects of climate change, Bill Gates said. The Microsoft founder and philanthropist wrote a blog post that warns that inaction on climate change will harm people living at the bottom. And he includes a call-to-action to prevent worst-case scenarios. “Yes, poor farmers have it tough. Their lives are puzzles with so many pieces to get right – from planting the right seeds and using the correct fertilizer to getting training and having a place to sell their harvest. If just one piece falls out of place, their lives can fall apart,” Gates wrote. “I know the world has what it takes to help put those pieces in place for both the challenges they face today and the ones they’ll face tomorrow. Most importantly, I know the farmers do, too.” The call comes at the same time meetings in Bonn, Germany, seek to move forward negotiations for the Paris meeting on climate change. Gates and his foundation are pressing leaders to enact solutions to climate change and put forward the needed money. The Green Climate Fund, a financing mechanism designed to assist developing counties deal with the effects of climate change and reduce emissions, has raised just $10 billion – a long way from its target of $100 billion by 2020.
Let’s face it, rubbing shoulders with someone you don’t know and having to awkwardly squeeze past them when you need to go to the loo is already one of the worst things about flying.
But now, in some kind of warped bid to get rid of this form of social awkwardness, things are about to get a whole lot worse: you might actually have to make eye contact with your fellow passengers.
At least that’s if a frankly horrifying patent application is approved. Zodiac Aerospace, a French aeroplane equipment supplier, wants to introduce its HD31 concept: a “high density” seating plan with “business class width”.
When a little girl named Marcelina is spitting up worms, it’s an image that you have trouble forgetting. Deworming children is a simple and straightforward task – a five-cent pill of albendazole usually does the trick – and yet in countries like Angola many kids are missed. They suffer anemia and, in extreme cases, an intestinal blockage that may require surgery.
My column today notes that these kinds of intestinal parasites are enabled by another kind of parasite – corrupt officials. Angola is pretty much a world capital of corruption, but it’s also enabled by global companies, including oil companies. And American oil companies are resisting transparency requirements in ways that would benefit parasitic government officials.