Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So I Made It Up

so what, I'm still right in principle.

Does the US Really Account for So Much Pharma Profit?:

(Hint: nope.)

There's quite a lot of question about whether Obama can turn health insurance reform around when he comes back from vacation next week. My guess is that he has to do it pretty quickly--within a few weeks--or any idea of really substantial reform is fairly hopeless. But I certainly don't think it's impossible. The man can talk.
But I gather that liberals are getting more and more worried. Why? Because the [sic] gratuitous nastiness from across the aisle.
And what's her example of librul hate speech? This, already noted by M. just below, which dares to criticize someone who thinks the USSR was the "United Soviet Socialist Republics" as unprofessional. She quotes from that link;
I'm not saying The Atlantic should fire her. [We are.] But perhaps her bosses ought to sit her down and have a discussion about the rigor with which one should approach writing, even blog writing. For instance, there are claims of opinion ("Coffee ice cream is tasty"), which require no particular support or justification, and then there are claims of fact ("Pharmaceutical companies make most of their profits in the United States") which do require that one be accurate. McArdle doesn't seem to know the difference. Fortunately, today we have this thing called "the Internet," which on a whole range of topics allows one to quickly and easily verify whether the impression one has, or something one vaguely remembers hearing somewhere, is actually true. If you can't be bothered to look it up, you might try inserting some qualifiers - "I seem to remember that..." or "I believe that..." or "I'll have to check this, but I think that..." - before making emphatic empirical claims. That way, if it turns out that you're wrong, you can easily correct the record, without looking like an idiot or a jerk (or maybe both).
If they had that conversation with her, then maybe she'd be less likely to find herself saying things like, "It wasn't a statistic - it was a hypothetical."
I know it's a lot of late season bandwagon jumping, but still, at least it pisses off Megan;
The reference is to my off-the-cuff remark about slashing pharmaceutical profits by 80%. I should note, to be fair, that there were two portions of the comment: one in which I repeated an estimate I had heard from several people, that the US accounted for something in the range of 85% of pharma net profits after you accounted for various issues, which I then turned into 80-90% when typing--a fairly common way to give a range on an uncertain verbal statistic. And then I said, "So if you slashed pharma profits 80% . . . " When asked about it on the Washington Post live chat, I forgot the first, and thought the commenter was referring to the postulated hypothetical destruction of all US profits. It's not clear which part of the comment they are referring to.
It's Susan's fault Megan was wrong.
Let's pause to refresh our minds on what Megan actually said;
Megan McArdle (Replying to: cmm) August 13, 2009 4:05 PM

The United States currently provides something like 80-90% of the profits on new drugs and medical devices. Perhaps you think you can slash profits 80% with no effect on the behavior of the companies that make these products. I don't.
Yeah, right Megan. Anyway, back to her long ass self-defense post;
But this "error" that I didn't check was not, contra Waldman, in a blog post, but in a comment [see below], followed by a live chat on the Washington Post's site. Waldman doesn't seem to know that, which implies that he didn't look. I mean, I'm not saying that Waldmann should be fired. But maybe his bosses should sit down and have a talk with him about primary sources.
Weakest defense ever? Wait, it's not over;
I may be in error on that--I've heard 80-90% from people in healthcare consulting, and I've seen that sales and profits in the US are usually larger when they're broken out on financial statements, which they aren't all that often. But they were not speaking on the record...
So she's repeating propaganda told to her at one of those Atlantic salons by an industry flack, which was a lie, and she thinks the problem is with those who are taking her to task for repeating that lie without, y'know, checking it out. I don't even need to add snark here.
Sadly, there are no definitive numbers on the topic that I am aware of. And I've asked a lot of researchers, left and right.
which is why she feels free to make them up.
She goes on to try to bury her opponents in a blizzard of random detail and misused jargon, in the hopes it'll drive them away and we won't see this
I don't want my off-the-cuff comment, based on conversations with people who were not speaking on the record, to become the source of a fake statistic for the right. 80% may not be right, and I can't back it up with any hard numbers, because there are no hard numbers available. But multiple corresponding sources suggest that the number is well over 50%. 60% is probably the floor of likely.
Nope, she didn't link to those sources, and the stuff I skipped doesn't say that.
The really irritating thing is that this is not remotely controversial to anyone who has ever spoken with anyone who is in the pharmaceutical business. It is not controversial that the center of gravity of pharmaceutical research and biotech is slowly but steadily tipping towards United States, though the reasons for this are still debated. It is not controversial that when the US starts looking like it might move towards price controls, R&D departments hunker down and wait. It is not controversial that the United States is by far the most important market for pharmaceuticals as a whole. This is only a surprising finding to people who do not want to sully themselves by getting any information from the pharmaceutical industry, who, after all, are interested parties. Rather than risk contaminating themselves with the dreaded taint of business, they rely on reports written by "experts" who have never run, or even studied, businesses.
YOU HEAR THAT, MOTHERFUCKERS? The people who misled Megan tell her other stuff, which must be true because they are interested parties. There's no reason why paid industry flacks speaking to her off the record at events which generate the money used to pay her salary would lie to her, only commies would think so.
So we can quibble about whether the percentages are in the high double digits, or the very high double digits, but what does the exact percentage matter?
I really don't need to be so snarky in this post, do I? I could just run the quotes and not even bother to add anything.
Then she notes that something her critic said doesn't agree with her accepted conservative dogma on the topic, which means the left are the ones lying;
The left used to be the side that said "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts." The idea that the United States market is by far the most important pharmaceutical market in the world, and that any significant change in the profit margins on drugs sold here will have enormous impact on the future of pharmaceuticals, is as close to a fact as we can get in this vale of uncertainty. This is not the hill on which liberals should try to stake their claim to the moral high ground.
Susan? Stop making her be wrong and making yourself look bad, if only for your own sake.
I can't believe she wrote this post, I really can't. She's literally attacking her critics for her own mistake. Does AmbienCR impair cognitive function? I swear she's getting stupider by the day.

Moar from Megan's commenter Scent of Violets;
ScentOfViolets September 2, 2009 9:33 PM
But this "error" that I didn't check was not, contra Waldman, in a blog post, but in a comment, followed by a live chat on the Washington Post's site.
Sigh. Not in a blog post, eh? Let's check the record:
You can claim, falsely, that government and academia already do all the work producing useful drugs. You can assume that slashing pharma profits 80% will have no impact on their behavior, or at least, only change the behavior you want to change.
Or you can bite the bullet and say, we should save lives now at the expense of lives later.
And of course, anyone is free to scroll down the page to see this 80% pop up again and again. So, no, this was not just some comment.
There's literally nothing you can trust Megan to get right.


Susan of Texas said...

When she snaps and starts taking out socialists with a pink semi-automatic weapon, I'm going to blame Tapped and TNR. If they want the credit they can have it.

arguingwithsignposts said...

"My guess is that he has to do it pretty quickly--within a few weeks--or any idea of really substantial reform is fairly hopeless."

Her guess? WTF? I can guess just as good as she can. She has a degree in English and an MBA and she's doing a Broder-esque pearl-clutch?

I hate Sully, but damn, at least he brings the link and shows some thought behind his sometimes twisted views.

M. Bouffant said...

Am I misreading, or is she implying there's a hierarchy of truth?

Comments, whatever; WaPo chat, maybe a little more important, but, you know; her blog, well, as long as it was pulled out of someone else's keister & she can go Joe Klein & type: "I was lied to by a Democratic staffer/interested party/uninterested party who's never run or even studied a business." The print pieces she scrawls probably are at least gone over by someone who can spot the real whoppers.

I bet her semi-auto matches her bicycle.

clever pseudonym said...

"I had heard from several people"

That's her back-up for her assertions. A couple of people sipping appletinis at a cocktail party told me...