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Big Pharma Gene Therapy Push Could Be a Dangerous Consumer Cash Grab

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In the wake of debilitating genetic diseases that have plagued mankind for centuries, many are turning to a controversial form of treatment dubbed “gene therapy,” which seeks to cure ailments at the genetic level. However, Big Pharma’s aggressive attempts to charge outlandish sums for this untested treatment could leave consumers bereft of their health and wallets.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, gene therapy works by replacing problematic, mutated genes with healthy gene copies, inactivating mutated genes that function improperly, and introducing new genes to assist in fighting disease. Currently, gene therapy is only being tested for diseases with no known cures.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a prime example of a disease being targeted by biotech companies for gene therapy, but the whopping price tag may be a hindrance to many with the disorder.

Zolgensma, an SMA gene therapy being developed by Novartis AG, would reportedly be “cost effective” at over $5 million, according to the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER). Novartis echoed the institute, calling the gene therapy cost effective at $4-5 million for a one-time treatment.

Similarly, Spinraza, an SMA treatment from Biogen Inc., would charge patients $750,000 for the first year and $375,000 per year thereafter. “The promise of gene therapy in general is that it would be once and done … but that is uncertain at this point,”Alfred Sandrock, Biogen Chief Medical Officer, reportedly told Reuters.

Spinraza is still a very viable option for babies with SMA. For children, teenagers and adults it may be the only option open to them,” Sandrock concluded, underscoring the fact that, for many suffering from genetic diseases like SMA, these costly cures could be the only option available.

Furthermore, the financial burdens presented by gene therapies could be the least of potential patients’ worries.

In September 1999, 18-year old Jesse Gelsinger died during a gene therapy trial study at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Gelsinger suffered from a genetic defect that prevents proper metabolism of ammonia and received doses of a virus carrying a “corrective gene” during the trial study.

Fast forward to 2018—James Wilson, the founder and director of Penn’s Institute for Human Gene Therapy and researcher involved in the 1999 trial study, sounded a dire warning about the dangers of gene therapy.

Noting that monkeys and pigs given high doses of gene therapy died or suffered behavioral changes during experiments, Wilson stated, “What is remarkable is we have not seen it before,adding, “We were surprised but shouldn’t have been. If you push the dose of anything high enough, you are going to see toxicity.

“It would be very naïve for our community to assume we won’t have toxic effects,” Wilson continued. “People get comfortable, saying, ‘Hey, let’s do it—there is nothing lose.’ Well, it’s out there waiting. But when it’s going to happen, why it’s going to happen—nobody knows.“

Moreover, some are experimenting with gene therapy on an individual basis.

Likewise, in October 2017, Josiah Zayner, CEO of biohacking startup “The Odin,” injected himself utilizing the gene-editing technology, CRISPR, in an effort to enhance his muscles. Last year however, after watching a biotechnology CEO inject himself with an untested herpes treatment, Zayner softened his approach towards experimenting with the untested treatments.

“Honestly, I kind of blame myself,” Zayner told The Atlantic, adding, “There’s no doubt in my mind that somebody is going to end up hurt eventually.”

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Thanks to Spineless, Establishment Republicans, Senate Panel Delays Vote to Subpoena Big Tech CEOs

Republicans Continue to Show Pathetic They are on the Issues that Matter Most

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America First nationalist’s hopes of having Big Tech CEOs testify before Congress about allegations of censorship directed towards the Right were temporarily dashed on October 19, 2020.

Politico reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee delayed plans to vote on subpoenas to force the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook to go before the Senate and be questioned about their anti-Right wing censorship policies.

Some Republicans ended up having cold feet and decided to postpone the vote much to the disappointment of right wing activists who have complained about Big Tech’s anti-free speech policies.

President Donald Trump and a number of nationalist Republicans have sharply criticized Facebook and Twitter over their censorship of a controversial New York Post report that exposed Hunter Biden, Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, and his corrupt behavior.

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Originally, GOP officials in the Judiciary Committee announced plans to hold a markup on October 20 to determine if they would subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to get his perspective on allegations concerning his company’s policies that muzzle conservative viewpoints. Twitter denies claims regarding Twitter’s censorship policies.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who is the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, revealed that the planned vote would also call on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify.

The panel stated on October 19 that it would determine whether they would issue subpoenas during a executive session on October 22 where it will also allegedly approve Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The committee declared in a statement that it will maintain negotiations with the companies “to allow for voluntary testimony” by the CEO. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the panel will proceed to take a vote on the subpoenas “at a date to be determined.”

The subpoenas would compel the tech big wigs to testify on the reports of “suppression and/or censorship” of New York Post stories and on “any other content moderation policies, practices, or actions that may interfere with or influence elections for federal office,” according to a committee document released on October 19.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who is the chair of the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution said to reporters that he’s expecting the committee to preside over testimonies from the Twitter and Facebook chiefs “shortly” regardless of whether they come to the decision on their own volition.

“One way or another, either voluntarily or pursuant to subpoena, they will testify and they will testify before the election,” Cruz stated.

In a separate hearing for the Senate Commerce Committee, Zuckerberg and Dorsey will join Google CEO Sundar Pichai on October 28 for a hearing on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally shields Big Tech companies from a liability.

Cruz, who is a member of both Judiciary and Commerce committees, wants each panel to carry out their own hearings with the tech chiefs before election day. “I believe we need a separate hearing in Judiciary because the issues being discussed in the two committees are different,” Cruz remarked.

Big Tech has become too powerful, especially during a time when social media has become the de facto public square. Republicans will need to get serious about making online speech receive the same treatment as general political speech.

 

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