I love cetirizine hydrochloride

Or Zyrtec ™ as you probably know it.  One of my little quirks is that I pride myself on knowing the generic name for every medicine anybody in my family uses (believe me, that’s a lot) as well as the generic names for most common medicines.  Also, I never buy brand-name medication.  Never.  These two facts are related.  Really nice column by Yglesias on the matter:

The novel approach taken by Bart Bronnenberg, Jean-Pierre Dubé, Matthew Gentzkow, and Jesse Shapiro (PDF) was to study the difference in purchasing choices made by people in different occupations or with different levels of knowledge.

They show, for example, that high-income households are much more likely to buy name-brand headache remedies than low-income households. That’s an empirical finding that’s compatible with all kinds of different accounts: Poor people buy cheap stuff all the time while richer people prefer more expensive items, perhaps because they’re superior. The authors show, however, that while physicians have substantially higher average incomes than lawyers, they are also much less likely to buy name-brand headache medicine.

It’s not just physicians. Registered nurses have more modest incomes than doctors, but are shown to be farmore likely to buy generic pain relievers than other people with similar incomes. Most strikingly of all, professional pharmacists—the people who know which pills are which—are even less likely to buy name brand than are doctors and nurses.

This all strongly suggests that rich people avoid generics not because the pills are inferior, or even because they’re showing off, but simply because they’re careless. Prosperous people whose occupations give them health care expertise steer clear of expensive brands. Nonoccupational proxies for knowledge indicate the same thing. When you control for income, there’s a clear correlation between educational attainment and preference for generics. Among college graduates, health majors are more likely to buy generics than other science majors, who in turn are more likely to go generic with their headache remedies than engineers. Engineers, meanwhile, buy generics more often than people with nontechnical college degrees. By the same token, willingness to buy generic drugs is strongly correlated with ability to correctly identify the active ingredient in name-brand pills. In total, Americans waste about $32 billion a year in buying name-brand pills over the counter where generic alternatives are readily available.

As for the fact that rich people (the vast majority of whom are not medical professionals) are buying all the brand-name led on of my FB friends to comment, “rich ≠ smart.  Q.E.D.”

Yglesias also points out another important fact, “One moral of the story (Slate advertisers should pay attention) is that advertising works.”

And, as to the title of the post, I really do love Zyrtec.  All the time I see people suffering from allergies and I ask them if they are taking anything. Invariably, they seem to say Claritin (loratadine).  That stuff might as well be a placebo.  Truth is, the makers were so despereate to be able to claim “non-drowsy” that they weakened the efficacy until their were no somnolent side-effects.   Zyrtec meanwhile, has a small, but statistically significant, number of users that do get drowsy, but the upshot is that it works a whole hell of a lot better.

But while I’m at it, I should let you know that there’s a clear scientific consensus that if you are suffering from allergic rhinitis, that intranasal corticosteroids (e.g., Flonase–fluticasone proprionate) are far and away the best treatment.  And in my case literally changed by life.

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Those no-good, lazy, unemployed freeloaders!

Or surely so it seems to the NC Republican legislators.  Of all the states with all the crazy conservatives, North Carolina is the very first to kick its citizens off of long-term federal unemployment benefits:

RALEIGH, N.C. — With changes to its unemployment law taking effect this weekend, North Carolina not only is cutting benefits for those who file new claims, it will become the first state disqualified from a federal compensation program for the long-term jobless.

State officials adopted the package of benefit cuts and increased taxes for businesses in February, a plan designed to accelerate repayment of a $2.5 billion federal debt. Like many states, North Carolina had racked up the debt by borrowing from Washington after its unemployment fund was drained by jobless benefits during the Great Recession.

The changes go into effect Sunday for North Carolina, which has the country’s fifth-worst jobless rate. The cuts on those who make unemployment claims on or after that day will disqualify the state from receiving federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation. That money kicks in after the state’s period of unemployment compensation — now shortened from up to six months to no more than five — runs out. The EUC program is available to long-term jobless in all states. But keeping the money flowing includes a requirement that states can’t cut average weekly benefits.

Because North Carolina leaders cut average weekly benefits for new claims, about 170,000 workers whose state benefits expire this year will lose more than $700 million in EUC payments, the U.S. Labor Department said.

And, why it is so important to kick these freeloaders to the curb?  Why, obviously, to jump-start the state’s economy:

Delaying would burden businesses and potentially increase the debt, said Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie. The cuts also will push people to find work faster, then move to a better job as the economy improves, she said.

Riiiiight.  Because all these people are living off a small portion of their potential earnings just because they’re not looking hard enough.  Unemployment insurance is just a “hammock” for the poor, as Paul Ryan would put it.  I’m sure the fact that there are three job seekers for every new job has nothing to do with the large number of long-term unemployed.  It’s just lazy freeloaders.

So, what do economists have to say about this?

And economist Larry Katz, whose 1980s research on the subject is frequentlycited by the right, says his previous findings about unemployment insurance extending the duration of unemployment don’t apply in the Great Recession. “I strongly favor extensions of UI benefits when the labor market is weak,” Katz told PolitiFact in 2009. Booting job-seekers from the support system does nothing to change the ugly reality that there are still three unemployed people for every job opening. That ratio of job hunters to available jobs is down from nearly 7:1 in mid-2009.

There’s being mean and  there’s bad policy– Republicans have hit the double with this one.

(Also, a nice N&O Op-Ed on this, too).

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