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Zombie patents: Drug companies are adept at extending the lifespan of patents, at consumers’ expense

Zombie patents: Drug companies are adept at extending the lifespan of patents, at consumers’ expense

Jun 21st 2014 | From the print edition

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IT IS hard to think of an industry in which competition is more important than pharmaceuticals. As health-care costs rocket, the price cuts—often of 85% or more—that generic drugs offer are one easy way to economise. Ibuprofen is a good example. In the early 1980s the drug, which soothes both pain and inflammation, was a costly patented product. Today Boots, a British chemist, sells 16 generic tablets for 40 pence (68 cents), just 2.5 pence per pill. In America, the drug can be bought in bulk for a penny a pop. Indeed, competition from generics is so painful to drugs companies that they have invented a series of ingenious palliatives, exploiting patent laws to help maintain high prices. Read more of this post

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Monetary policy and asset prices: A narrow path; Central banks around the world are struggling to promote growth without fomenting worrisome risk-taking

Monetary policy and asset prices: A narrow path; Central banks around the world are struggling to promote growth without fomenting worrisome risk-taking

Jun 21st 2014 | Washington, DC | From the print edition

UNTIL the global financial crisis, central banks treated bubbles with benign neglect: they were hard to detect and harder to deflate, so best left alone; the mess could be mopped up after they burst. No self-respecting central bank admits to benign neglect any longer. “No one wants to live through another financial crisis,” Janet Yellen, then a candidate to head the Federal Reserve, said last year. “I would not rule out using monetary policy as a tool to address asset-price misalignments.”

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Relentless.com: At 20 Amazon is bulking up. It is not-yet-slowing down

Relentless.com: At 20 Amazon is bulking up. It is not—yet—slowing down

Jun 21st 2014 | PHOENIX AND SEATTLE | From the print edition

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HIGH-TECH creation myths are expected to start with a garage. Amazon, impatient with ordinary from the outset, began with a road trip. In the summer of 1994 Jeff Bezos quit his job on Wall Street, flew to Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife MacKenzie and hired a car. While MacKenzie drove them towards the Pacific Northwest, Jeff sketched out a plan to set up a catalogue retailing business that would exploit the infant internet. The garage came later, in a suburb of Seattle, where he set up an office furnished with desks made from wooden doors. About a year later, Amazon sold its first book. Read more of this post

Treating diabetes: There’s an app for that; How software can make diabetics’ lives safer and simpler

Treating diabetes: There’s an app for that; How software can make diabetics’ lives safer and simpler

Jun 21st 2014 | New York | From the print edition

IF DIABETICS are to keep their blood-sugar levels in a healthy range, they must rely not only on periodic visits to the doctor, but also on careful daily management of their medicine, meals and exercise. For years, this regime included regular self-administered blood-sugar tests and similarly self-administered insulin injections. Now, in the better-off parts of the world at least, these things can be automated. There are gadgets that monitor sugar levels, and implanted pumps that deliver insulin. But Ed Damiano of Boston University and Steven Russell of Massachusetts General Hospital think things could be improved further by using software to make these devices work together as what would, in effect, be an artificial pancreas. Read more of this post

Rain mouse: Recent experiments give a glimmer of hope for a treatment for autism

Rain mouse: Recent experiments give a glimmer of hope for a treatment for autism

Jun 21st 2014 | From the print edition

WHAT causes autism is a mystery. One theory is that a phenomenon called the cellular-danger response lies at the root of it. The CDR makes cells put their ordinary activities on hold and instead switch on their defence systems, in reaction to high levels in the bloodstream of chemicals called purines. These are important and widespread substances: ATP, a molecule that shuttles energy around cells, is a purine; so are half the “genetic letters” in DNA. Cells under viral attack tend to shed them. Too many of them in the blood can thus be a signal of viral infection. In that case activating the CDR makes perfect sense. But studies have shown that people with autism (and also those with some other brain conditions, such as schizophrenia) often seem to have chronic CDR. The purine signal has somehow got stuck in the “on” position. Read more of this post

How far can Amazon go? It has upended industries and changed the way the world shops. But it should beware of abusing its power

How far can Amazon go? It has upended industries and changed the way the world shops. But it should beware of abusing its power

Jun 21st 2014 | From the print edition

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WHEN Jeff Bezos left his job in finance and moved to Seattle 20 years ago to start a new firm, he rented a house with a garage, as that was where the likes of Apple and HP had been born. Although he started selling books, he called the firm Amazon because a giant river reflected the scale of his ambitions. This week the world’s leading e-commerce company unveiled its first smartphone, which Amazon treats less as a communication device than an ingenious shopping platform and a way of gathering data about people in order to make even more accurate product recommendations. Read more of this post

Why Making Enemies Can Help A Brand Succeed

Why Making Enemies Can Help A Brand Succeed

MAGGIE ZHANG STRATEGY  JUN. 20, 2014, 2:07 AM

This is part of the “Moving Forward” series offering advice to small business owners on technology, mentorship, productivity, and growth. “Moving Forward” is sponsored by Ink from Chase®. More posts in the series »

In 1984, Apple launched a legendary Superbowl commercial that depicted Apple fans as the visionary, cool kids on the block, while the PC guys were shown as the out-of-touch nerds. The advertisement was a sensation, and the competition had everyone talking about the upcoming release of the Macintosh. Read more of this post

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