On the recent violence involving law enforcement

I had hoped when I wrote my post some eleven months ago about the murder of Darren Goforth that it would be the last time I wrote anything about the topic of violence directed against police. Sadly, the recent murder of five Dallas Police Department officers during protests of the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

So we add the following events to the timeline from my previous post linked above (not yet intended to be a complete list):

  • 2016 July 5: Alton Sterling was shot by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following a 911 call from a homeless person saying Alton was threatening people with a gun.
  • 2016 July 6: Philando Castile was shot by Jeronimo Yanez, an officer with the St. Anthony Police Department in Minnesota.
  • 2016 July 7: Five Dallas area police officers are killed (four from Dallas PD, one from DART’s police force) and nine other people are injured in an ambush at a protest organized by Black Lives Matter. It is the deadliest day for law enforcement since the terrorist attacks of 2001 September 11.

The loss of life which Black Lives Matter was protesting in Dallas and elsewhere was unfortunate. I’m not going to go into whether either shooting was justified, but what really bothers me is that someone got angry enough about this to go ambush a bunch of police officers who had nothing to do with either shooting as an apparent symbolic retaliation.

It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway for the record. I fully condemn the attack on Dallas area law enforcement officers as a senseless act of terrorist violence and an egregious affront against our decent society and the laws which govern it. Further, an attack against police officers of a completely different jurisdiction than those involved in the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, or for that matter any violent response to the shootings of those two men, is not going to solve a damn thing.

I believe it is still possible for us to unite as a society against violence. If the officers who shot Alton or Philando were wrong, they need to be held accountable. We cannot allow those in charge of enforcing the laws which maintain order in our society to get away with breaking those same laws, or the agency/department policies that govern their work.

As long as they remain non-violent, I encourage whatever future protests Black Lives Matter or other organizations feel necessary to address this issue. But I reiterate the point I make above: violence isn’t going to solve a damn thing. All it’s going to do, especially after the law enforcement officers in the Dallas area have lost their lives for no good reason, is make whatever strife and conflict between citizens and cops even worse.

And yes, I have criticized law enforcement agencies on this blog in the past, and and some point will probably do so in the future. However at the same time I recognize that law enforcement is a tough and dangerous job, and that laws are what hold our society together. As stated by the FSF on their “Words to Avoid” page: “Laws, at their best, attempt to implement justice.” And as I have said before, usually those who make the laws get it right, but not always.

Another pharmacy mishap, another young life cut short

Once again, we visit the issue of pharmacy mishaps.

CW39.com recently reported on the death of an 8-year old boy which the mother blames on a mistake made by a compounding pharmacy months prior. The boy, Jake Steinbrecher from Loveland, Colorado, had originally been taking clonidine in pill form. The pills were 0.1mg each and needed to be cut into fourths to achieve the required dosage of 0.025mg.

And then Jake outgrew that dosage and needed 0.03mg or about a third of a pill. From the story:

“But then he grew in size and we needed to go to a third,” Steinbrecher said. “And you can’t cut thirds so we went to compounding it.”

Jake’s new prescription called for 0.03mg doses dissolved in liquid form. They filled the prescription at Good Day Pharmacy in Loveland, Colorado, on Oct. 31.

“Within a few minutes, he fell into such a deep sleep his dad couldn’t wake him up,” Steinbrecher said. “I was pinching him and shaking him and I could not get him to open his eyes.”

They rushed Jake to the hospital where he was eventually airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Denver. He was having seizures, hallucinating and had swelling in his brain.

It turns out, that instead of a 0.03mg dose, he had gotten a 30mg dose. That was in 2015 October. Fast forward to June 7 of this year:

On June 7, Jake fell ill, and began vomiting and urinating blood. His mother rushed him to the hospital. His blood platelets were clotting throughout his bloodstream. This time, the little boy didn’t make it.

The story is still developing, but I wanted to get my thoughts on this out there. From my previous post on a similar situation (skip down to about halfway through or search for the phrase “And there are other situations similar to this”), compounding pharmacies are a favorite target of regulators. Maybe there is a sound reason to this, or maybe not. But often compounding pharmacies are the only choice for certain medications, and to be reduced simply to what CVS, Walgreens, etc are willing to mass dispense in pill form would spell disaster for a large number of patients across the country who currently depend on them.

It’s the “chilling effect” at work once again. When running a compounding pharmacy starts to be considered too much of a risk, fewer will do so, so there will be fewer in operation. Maybe this is exactly what “big pharma” wants in the long term. What the heck do they propose we do in cases like Jake’s where it’s simply impossible to cut a pill into the required dosage?

I can tell you that it’s certainly possible to get dosages wrong even at a non-compounding pharmacy. That said, a simple quick check on drugs.com or a similar reference would have shown that a dosage of 30 mg was way out of whack. I am inclined to believe any decent pharmacist should have caught this error before it left the pharmacy.