Is Tamiflu worth it?


Research published in the British Medical Journal says there is no public evidence that Tamiflu reduces complications associated with influenza. Researchers attempting to review data about the Roche produced drug -- dubbed "our best line of defence" against swine flu by the British health secretary -- found the Swiss laboratory wouldn't permit public access to the studies on the drugs.

Tamiflu might shorten influenza suffering by a day or so they said, based on information in the public domain, but it's not clear that chances of serious complications, like pneumonia, would be affected by Tamiflu. Such meager results mean it might not be worth confronting the side-effects, which include: "insomnia, nausea, bad dreams, abdominal pain, headache and a rare neuropsychiatric disease that caused some users to attempt to harm themselves."

This is understandably a problem for the governments around the world who have stockpiled huge quantities of the drug to prescribe for H1N1, contributing to Roche's estimated $2.65 billion in revenues this year from Tamiflu. In a very entertaining, but not too enlightening analogy, a Brit scientist tried to explain the situation policy makers now find themselves in when deciding to use the drug:

But I suppose that once you've gone and bought lots of doses, then it's a bit like the situation with gun control in the US. If you have a gun in the house, it is much easier to use it. But it does not mean it's the right thing to do."



Pirates' consumption patterns unchanged over the centuries


The New York Times reports over the past two years a piece of land in Bossaso increased in price 66 percent, a pair of men's shoes is up 150 percent. The reason? Pirates.

It appears the massive amount of booty being swashbuckled by Somali pirates is having very real effects on the consumer market.  In a sign that not much has changed in piracy over the past few centuries, the Somali pirates are spending their plunder on prostitutes, booze and drugs.

Last month alone, Somali pirates raked in over $3 million; and the E.U. reports that 11 ships are being held by pirates off the Somali coast, paydays waiting to happen.  This is translating to a giant disparity on the shore, as pirates drive around in luxury SUVs and don't even bother to collect their change after buying something. People who can't afford consumer goods often use the excuse, "we are not pirates."

They're not exactly romantics, though. ''Pirates do not waste time to woo women, but instead pay them a lot,'' said Sahro Mohamed, owner of a beauty salon.