The Great Florida Pain Business

South Florida has become notorious for its liberal distribution of prescription pills. From across the nation, people make their way to Florida to obtain schedule II and III prescription drugs, such as oxycodone ( generic oxy-contin) and alprazolam (generic xanax).  Residents in places as far away as Kentucky and Northern Ohio have become enraged, as their once small communities have seen their streets flooded with prescription pills, most commonly oxycodone and other opiate medication.

This craze has created a new multi-million pharmaceutical trade in Florida.  Pain management clinics have sprung up all over the state, but most notoriously in Broward county, where there were at one point “more pain clinics than Mcdonalds.”  Many claim that the doctors prescribing pain medication are simply drug dealers with degrees, hiding behind shortcomings in Florida legislature in order to prescribe drugs for profit, with no intent on helping the patient.

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30 MG Oxycontin Pill

For some, this has been going on for too long, with no action taken what so ever.  Local business owners, who are fed up seeing what they describe as “junkies” outside their places of business, as well as Moms locally and around the country whose kids have overdosed on drugs coming from south Florida are taking matters into their own hands, starting grassroots advocacy campaigns.

These factors, as well as nationwide media coverage have caught the attention of Federal organizations, such as the DEA, and have prompted the state to create new legislature regarding prescription pills. These actions have put a dent in the Florida pain business, but it is dubious as to whether they have completely shut the pain clinics down.

What Are the New Laws?

There are many new laws regarding prescription pills. However, what many people have seen as the most effective tool combating what the CDC has called an “epidemic,” is the implementation of a database that tracks prescription drugs prescribed to individuals.  Databases like this have been in place in areas like Kentucky for years, and many say it was Florida’s lack of a prescription pill monitoring database that spurred the mass trek to Florida.

There are many other laws in addition to this. Doctors in Florida that prescribe Class II and III substances must now label themselves as doctors that prescribe such pills on state applications. Furthermore, clinics are also banned from distributing pills directly from their clinic, which some say gave them a financial incentive to push pills. However, it is worthwhile to say that some doctors and entities are exempt from these new rules.

Nationwide Impact

As the pain clinics in Florida fueled a nationwide “epidemic,” the closing down of these clinics, and the stricter new laws surrounding them have seen a nationwide impact.  Gone are the days where “pillbillies” would be able to drive down to Florida and simply look around in order to get their fix or to resell them back home.

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Foil Used to Smoke Oxycontin

This has caused a supply shortage in the pharmaceutical black market, causing a dramatic increase in the price of oxycodone. This price increase has simply been too much for some, who are now forced to try substitute drugs, most commonly heroin.

Because of the similar properties between Oxydodone and heroin, which are both derived from Opium, the leap to heroin is not necessarily a long one, especially because many Oxycodone addicts already inject the pill directly into their blood veins.

The supply of heroin, unlike oxycontin, is imported – mostly from Mexico.  This has many consequences for the users. For one, the sale of heroin is not regulated or taxed, which means the drug could be cut with anything. Furthermore, the use of heroin supports drug cartels south of the border, rather than corporations here in the U.S, who were benefiting from the Oxycontin trade.

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Effects of a Supply Shortage on fixed (inelastic) demand. Note price increases, quantity supplied remains the same. Economic effects: more firms will enter market, people will switch to substitutes.

Changing Faces

Though recent efforts against pain clinics have brought their numbers down, it is not safe to say that they are completely gone.  Take a drive through Broward, and you will notice an abnormally high amount of chiropractors’ offices.   Are chiropractors flooding down to South Florida with the naïve intention of curing back pain, or are we simply seeing more of the same?

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 Photo Courtesy of Danielle Befeler, grabbed from facebook.

Image 1: Source, SD entertainer.

Image 2: Source, pharmer.org .

Image 3: Original.

Mixed Signals

Real Estate prices and development in normally booming markets such as Miami and New York have remained stagnant at best in the last two years. However, many analysts and speculators are affirming positions that the US real estate market will bottom out in 2012. Such statements were made by a real estate investor last month at a conference hosted by the Mortgage Bankers association. Similar claims were made by Bank of America earlier in March this year as well. However, these claims seem wan and unconfident, with analysts citing only a “0.5%” appreciation this year.  These are in stark contrast to statements they had made in November, predicting a “3.5%” fall in housing prices during 2012. During 2014 they expect a modest “2.8%” growth, their long term figures are not as optimistic as most would have hoped, with a “42%” appreciation in housing prices through 2020.

The primary reasons analysts cite for these statistics are recent “higher-than-expected job creation and record-low mortgage rates.” While early 2012 has seen job creation, investors are still trembling every single day over Europe. And occurring in both UBS, as well as JP Morgan, it almost seems an acceptable practice for to banks to lose billions overnight.

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Federal stimuli and recent trends of low borrowing rates among U.S banks have lead not only to the aforementioned record low interest rates, but job creation and sustenence throughout the U.S. So really what we are seeing here is an economy backed by credit, one that is at root funded by low U.S borrowing rates, and with Europes economy only seeming to get cloudier ever day, those borrowing rates will remain low. These low borrowing U.S government rates (along with earnlier steps of Quantitative Easing) eventually trickle down to banks, and allow them to make low interest rate loans to homeowners.

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Bureau of Labor Statistics Goods Producing Labor Predictions 3/29/2012

Although low interest rates are not bad for debtors, they may not be accounting for sufficient risk on the account of the creditors, in this case American banks. An economy funded by an overload of credit is an unpredictable one, it is beyond me to assert whether this the current position of our economy, but it is definitely something to consider. Since easier credit innevitabley leads to higher bidding prices, one must look at the state of credit when analyzing real estate.

In the end though, the United States of America still is the worlds biggest market place, and currently still a global leader in technology and innovation. So even if the housing market fell along with the economy, the U.S.A, as long as it does not decline into complete anarchy, will in my opinion always be seen as a place of investment, commerce and confidence.

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 Reposted on my other site.

Credibility in Journalism

Today anyone can publish anything on the internet. In fact, as I am writing this I’m sure thousands of articles are being cranked out on thousands of different websites. This being said, few of these articles will see the eyes of more than 50 people, if they are lucky or –more likely credible.

The initial credibility of a journalism stems from the institution he is producing for. For example, a journalist who writes for the New York Times or Bloomberg would be held in higher regard than one who writes for USA Today or their own independent source or blog.

Looking past the institution for which the Journalist is producing, the second major focus of the reader is grammar and syntax. No journalist, whether they are writing for Bloomberg or John’s Official News Site will be taken seriously if they do not follow proper spelling, grammar and syntax.

However, in order to truly decide whether what the author is writing is creditworthy, one must look into his/her expertise and pedigree.  Someone writing for Bloomberg about Brent Oil Futures should have some background in finance or trading. At the very least he should be an experienced financial writer if his words are to sway anyones decisions.

An authors credibility or Ethos can be a deciding factor in persuading an audience, or at the very least making them listen. An author’s credibility is a very important part of persuasion as well as attention retention. People today are bombarded by advertisements, news and t.v programs — all which vie for their attention, making attention spans smaller and smaller.  Being a credible writer will at the very least will increase the chance that you can engage your audience.

Journalism as a Tool

When a journalist creates a big story, one has to look at his work from all perspectives.  Many take for granted that the motivation the journalist has in bringing a story to the public is benign. Stories can be told for a variety of reasons, varying from political and financial reasons, to simple career advancement .

This being said, in order to get the truth out of a story, one must learn to read between the lines and take the facts into consideration, while blocking out the speculation that is a major part of journalism today.

One must also attempt to know the writer, and the institution for which he is writing.  Knowing the writers simple background and experience can put a new perspective on a story.

Journalists who have a large amount of followers are in fact very powerful people.  In financial news, the speculation of a writer could influence the wellbeing and share prices of a company, so it would be naive to think that journalists could never be used as “tools.”

And this isn’t the only way that they can be used either. Powerful journalists have the ability to sway public opinion, whether it be for a good cause, or simply a good old fashioned under the table bribe.

This is why I opt to read news (mostly financial) from multiple sources, written in multiple languages, as I can see more easily what is fact, and what is speculation or even possibly lies.  However, this is not a panacea to the aforementioned statements.

 

The New News

For years now, it seems that journalists and observers alike have been squabbling over what the future of news will be. On the extreme end of one side, we have revered, older and established journalists. To the other extreme we have hyper-optimistic youth and band-wagoners.

These two groups both know one thing: the old form of print and television journalism is dead.  However, they differ wildly on their opinions about where the news industry is going. But the reality is that no one knows the answer to this question.

Existing journalism companies may tout that their institutional structure is what brings people together to make news, while speculators believe that this organization is actually the biggest cost in creating media. A cost that forces less quality and quantity of media upon the masses.

The reality is, as cliche` as it may sound, that they are both right.

Money/pay is what motivates people to get out of bed and write/take a photo/edit. And, playing by this rule, lack of money/pay is also the reason why someone will be unproductive. This is inevitability true in a society where money is cherished above all other things.

Profit making media companies champion this argument as the backbone for their livelihood, however this very same argument can be used against them.

Institutional costs are in every billion dollar media company very very high, and these costs are not synonymous with coordination costs.  If a journalist(s) writes about a major global event that made their company billions, is the CEO entitled to a bonus? Most would say no, but many contracts made say yes. In some cases (severance checks) executives are even paid to be fired.

Essentially, every dollar spent on actually producing media produces more for a company than every dollar spent on SG&A. This being said, no hierarchical organization can operate without a head.  And typically, the head receives more attention than the hands.

The solution to this problem is not where the money is spent, but how it is spent, and how executives are coordinating with employees.

The distribution of money is only one facet of the changing media landscape. A long with it’s family credibility, distribution, accessibility, importance, politics, and a variety of factors I can and cannot fathom, will shape the future of information and news. .

Information is not always a commodity, and anyone who distributes information is a journalist. Therefore one should not ask, who is a Journalist, but who is a good journalist.

One thing is for sure, no one is right.

end.

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Random notes that helped me form story (maybe interesting [not going to delete, jack keroac style{he would have liked that}]):

Future of news consensus, readers will become writers. There will be no news hierarchy.News institutions less profitable. Public interest journalism is expensive, like a mission.

Information monopoly.

Two generations, old news, industry trying to protect themselves. Overexcited youth. Opinion is added to story most of time, no one knows intent forsure.

News rooms sometimes avoid hard subjects, people will. capital, collaboration is necessary. motivation also

Journalists are whoever does the work. Journalism, who brings information.

support groups are value neutral by nature.

“This is why, IMHO, journalism is great these days at incremental news, not so good at stepping back and grabbing hold of the narrative. In some circles, this is frowned upon.”

ad model vs editorial model

FON Trying to take professional aspect out of journalism.

Are costs of news actually zero?

Is news a commodity?

Local news is definitely not one, different place to place.

Financial, premium papers have more ability to charge than others. Small, specialization.

News institutions may sometimes face biases.

Ideas that are reported, even if not certain, are expressed as facts.

Readers sometimes do not always know more than journalists.

Shirky reminds us in a widely quoted 2009 essay on newspapers’ predicament, it is the radicals who are rational, while the voices of caution are, in fact, mad:

“the principle around which it is organized, is public-interest reporting; the kind that is usually expensive, risky, stressful, and time-consuming.”

quantity vs quality

change of equilibrium

Coordination costs — can be free if they can make something actually worthless like a grade, and make it valuable. exactly like money.

Coordination costs of institutions can be institutions themselves, self-perservation. Institutions as obstacles, or enablers.

We can coordinate without planning so far in advance