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Old 02-13-04   #1
tomtom
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The cost of a human life...BILLIONS IN CORPORATE GREED

http://www.corporatewatch.org/profil...ceuticals.html

Pharmaceutical Industry

Practicing the most stark acts of corporate inhumanity

Pharmaceutical Giants
‘There were times not long ago that drug companies were merely the size of nations. Now, after a frenzied two-year period of pharmaceutical mega-mergers, they are behemoths, which outweigh entire continents. The combined worth of the world’s top five drug companies is twice the combined GNP of all sub-Saharan Africa and their influence on the rules of world trade is many times stronger because they can bring their wealth to bear directly on the levers of western power.’ (Guardian, 26/06/2001)

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable industries in both the US and Great Britain. Gross Profit margins of some of the leading pharmaceutical companies in recent years has been around 70 to 80 percent [1].

The global drugs market is controlled by corporate behemoths such as Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Bayer, Merck & Co, Pharmacia, Novartis, Johnson&Johnson, Abbott Laboratories, American Home Products, Eli Lilly, Schering-Plough, GlaxoSmithKline and Allergan. Their market domination enables them to dictate drug prices . In past years, pharmaceutical prices have risen faster than the rate of inflation. The fact that there is very little price elasticity (the elasticity of demand tells us how much the quantity demanded changes when the price changes) associated with price increases is a major factor contributing to the high profitability of the pharmaceutical industry. A patient will not change the demand for a product with a small change in price when there are no close or available substitutes. Actual manufacturing costs of medicines are relatively low [2].

The big pharmaceutical companies’ profits can be even higher due to limited competition in the pharmaceutical industry caused by strict patent laws [when a company owns a patent for a key drug, profits can mount up since the company faces no competition] and high barriers for small firms [new competitors] to enter the industry. In addition, through a recent and ongoing wave of mergers and acquisitions the big companies intensify the process of consolidation [limiting competition in the so-called free market even further]. Also, more frequently strategic alliances (less costly than mergers and acquisitions) are being formed with small biotech companies in order to reap the (new) economic benefits biotechnology offers. The drug giants cannot keep track of all new developments themselves, but want to keep their pipelines full [3].

According to industry apologists, high profits in the pharmaceutical industry are justified due to the unusual nature of the industry: research and development costs for new drugs require huge investments and involve relatively great risks as to whether the investment will pay off. However, claim that prices are kept artificially high even after the initial investment has been recovered.

In addition, money is spent on ‘bribing’ journalists and ‘independent’ researchers. The industry’s most closely guarded secrets, according to Gaia foundation, are their pricing policy and what they are spending on lobbying [5]. PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), an US-based organisation that represents all the big drug companies, has one of the biggest lobbying budgets in Washington.

Also, much of the research which end up providing the drug giants’ profits was carried out with public money at universities and in public laboratories. The top ten drug companies in the US are reported to spend on average 20% of their revenues on R&D, of which 40% is paid by the governmental National Institute of Health (Forbes, 27/11/2000). In addition, the Guardian reports that drug companies try to make their R&D budgets look bigger by means of creative accounting. ‘With a little creative accounting, all manners of expenditures have been logged under the R&D title, partly in the pursuit of tax rebates.’ (The Guardian Unlimited, 13/02/2001) [6]

According to Dr Judith Jones, Director of the Division of Drug Experience at the FDA, if the data obtained by a clinician proves unsatisfactory towards the drug being investigated, it is quite in order for the company to continue trials elsewhere until satisfactory results and testimonials are achieved. Unfavourable results are very rarely published and clinicians are pressured into keeping quiet about such data.

It is very easy for the drug company to arrange appropriate clinical trials by approaching a sympathetic clinician to produce the desired results that would assist the intended application of the drug. The incentive for clinical investigators to fabricate data is enormous. As much as $1000 per subject is paid by American companies, which enables some doctors to earn up to $1 million a year from drug research, and investigating clinicians know all too well that if they don't produce the desired data, the loss of future work is inevitable [9].

Thirteen of the world's leading medical journals have recently (September 2001) mounted an outspoken attack on the rich and powerful drug companies, accusing them of distorting the results of scientific research for the sake of profits. The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association and other major journals accused the drug giants of using their money - or the threat of its removal - to tie up academic researchers with legal contracts so that they are unable to report freely and fairly on the results of drug trials [10].

The drug giants are kicking the poor, especially those in poor countries, in several different ways: by refusing to develop drugs needed in the Third World (e.g. drugs combating malaria, tuberculosis, sleeping illness and other tropical diseases) because there is no profit in it; by refusing to allow the manufacture and import of cheap generic drugs (South Africa, India, Brazil, Thailand and Egypt are good cases in point), using the poor as guinea pigs for untried and untested drugs (this is happening on a dangerously large and ever increasing scale), by engaging in biopiracy in the South (transnational corporations "pirating" genetic resources from the developing South) [11].


‘About 14 million people die each year from infectious diseases, many of which are preventable or treatable
, This health crisis is caused by several inter-linked factors -poverty, and lack of access to health services, water and sanitation being some of them. However, a vital factor in the promotion of public health - and very often a matter of life and death - is the supply of effective and affordable medicines and people’s access to such medicines and treatments.’[12]

‘Of the 1,223 new chemical entities developed in the 21-year period between 1975-1996, only 11 were for the treatment of tropical diseases.
The last major new tuberculosis drug was developed 30 years ago, but tuberculosis remains a major cause of death in many developing countries. There is concern that R&D in the pharmaceutical sector is concentrated on products intended for the lucrative developed-country markets, given the increased investments for R&D on drugs for impotence, obesity and baldness, instead of R&D on new and more effective drugs for life-threatening or poverty-related ‘Third World diseases’, including malaria and tuberculosis.’[14]

"I had not been exploring Big Pharma for more than a couple of days before I was hearing of the frantic recruitment of third world ‘volunteers’ as cheap guinea pigs. Their role, though they may not ever know this, is to test drugs, not yet approved for testing in the US, which they themselves will never be able to afford even if the tests turn out reasonably safe" --John le Carre

Every year infectious diseases kill two million people in the Third World; over half are children under the age of five, the vast majority too poor to afford proper healthcare. Countless millions more suffer debilitating illnesses, and two billion people lack access to basic health care. The availability of cheap drugs and better healthcare systems would help to reduce these figures. To keep the drug giants happy, and using the threat of trade sanctions, WTO rules (TRIPs) are preventing the availability of cheap generic drugs. GATS (WTO rules governing rules on trade in services) will force healthcare systems into the private sector [16].

Since its inception, TRIPs (allowing the patenting of life forms, undermining poor countries’ rights to their natural resources and traditional knowledge, selling out the environment by undermining the Biosafety Protocol, preventing poor countries from developing their own pharmaceutical industry, and from importing cheap drugs to fight public health disasters, etc.) has been highly controversial. The US, the big pharmaceutical companies, the WTO and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) aggressively pressured poor countries to ensure their compliance with TRIPs.

In the face of so many people suffering and dying preventable deaths, it is very cynical to note that it’s all about money. As Pfizer CEO McKinnell puts it: "No one believes the provision of cut-price or even free Aids drugs in Africa will seriously dent drug company profits. But surrendering intellectual property in one part of the world would undermine the system of commercial incentives vital for the development of tomorrows medicines." [18] However, as has been notified earlier, this reasoning is based on loose ground, and obviously highly immoral from a human perspective.

The fact is that the Doha Declaration only confirmed the existing agreement which already says that WTO rules on patents do not prevent member states from providing more affordable generic medicines for their peoples. Nothing new here. The only so-called gain is that the WTO members adopted a strong political statement confirming this.

In March 2001, 39 of the world's largest drugs companies took action against South Africa to stop the use of generic drugs. At issue was South Africa's right to import and manufacture cheap generic drugs. The drug companies were asking the Pretoria High Court to invalidate a South Africa law (Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act) that permits the import and manufacture of cheap generic drugs. The case was expected to last one week. On the second day the case was postponed for six weeks. During the period the case was scheduled to be heard, i.e. one week, drugs companies would have sold $2.2 billion of drugs, making a profit of $560 million. By the end of the week 5,000 sick South Africans would have died. 5,000 sick South Africans would have paid the price of corporate greed [21].

Following the adjournment of the South African drugs case several corporations announced discounts on their drugs, but this has been dismissed for what it is, empty gestures delivered under pressure. The world’s drugs companies occasionally provide cheap drugs to the Third World. These are drugs long superceded, drugs it is cheaper to dump on the Third World than to store or dispose of [22]. Donations and projects offered by drug companies are meaningless and can only be considered PR stunts, as long as the drug giants keep overpricing drugs (e.g. via patent law enforcement) beyond the reach of millions of poor people and keep ignoring poor people’s needs.

‘WTO trade rules (TRIPs) obviously clash with International Humanitarian Law.’

The pharmaceutical industry is not generally affected by economic conditions. ‘Rather, the industry has a tendency to be impacted by regulatory bodies and laws.’[26] Therefore, the pharmaceutical industry goes out of its way to influence politicians and policymakers. In the US, health care reforms are currently cited by the industry as the most important factor determining its future. The nation's multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry appears comfortably situated with new President Bush.

Dr. E.M. Kolassa, an associate professor of pharmacy at the University of Mississippi and an industry consultant, said drug firms are more comfortable with a Bush administration than they would have been with Gore, who accused them of, among other things, price fixing. Drug prices, increasing at a rate that outstrips inflation, emerged as a major issue during the presidential campaign because many senior citizens have trouble paying for their medicine. Gore scored political points by criticising industry profits and the high price of drugs. After heavily financing his election campaign, the concerns of the nation's big drug companies appear to be somewhat alleviated. Bush has surrounded himself with advisers with ties to the pharmaceutical industry [27].

The pharmaceutical industry enjoys more privileges/freedom in the US (than in the EU).
There are more price regulations (e.g., some medicines must be supplied at a fixed price) and the approval process for new medicines to enter the market is longer in the EU. As a result, the period in which corporations can pick the fruits of their patent rights is shortened. In addition, advertising codes are stricter in the EU, preventing corporations from aggressively promoting their products directly to consumers (DTC). All these issues impinge on the profitability of the drug giants which therefore threaten to move all or part of their business to the US. The European Commission (as well as the UK government) is actively working to prevent this by relaxing regulation.

With business-friends Bush and Blair in power, the outlook for the industry is promising.
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Old 02-13-04   #2
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Are you drinking to the pharmaceutical company that created the "great success story" that was thalidomide?
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Old 02-13-04   #3
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I don't understand how they can patent medicine. By doing that they're not only monopolizing(in a short term sense) that drug, but they're basically controlling the drug itself from being able to be given to anyone except if those people who need it can meet the necessary cost.
Which they often can't.

Any company which puts profits over humanity doesn't deserve to exist.
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Old 02-13-04   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLB
They invented it, they own it.

If it weren't for the ability of them to make a profit, mankind would just suffer without the drugs they invented.

Shared misery. That's what socialism gives us.
....
Uh..huh.
You completely ignored how I was talking about how by keeping it so it's patented to only one organization/company they're thereby monopolizing the drug for...what is it, 20 years per patent?
And that in itself is making it so that not as many people can get a drug..and this type of drug might also be a LIFE SAVING drug. So by not giving out the drug to those that really need it, or by overcharging in comparison to the overall creation costs, they're thereby making it so that they're damning more people than they save.
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Old 02-13-04   #5
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So you believe money is more important than people?
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Old 02-13-04   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLB
No, I believe that the lure of money causes people to make fantastic new drugs which benefit all people.

Take away that stimulus, and everyone suffers.
And as such you believe they are not overcharging for drugs, or anything else along those lines, when in fact multiple people in today's world are incapable of affording the drugs they need?


Also, do you happen to know the average cost for making a drug, and then the average price asked of people who wish to purchase it?
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Old 02-13-04   #7
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So, in essence, you think money is more important than lives.
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Old 02-14-04   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLB
No, I think that lives are more important than class warfare, or liberal greed and jealousy.
We aren't talking in comparison to those.
We're talking about how the "pharm" industries are overcharging for their medicine, and that in turn is costing lives and/or making it so that people spend more money on their medicine than on their bills, thus lowering their overall living capabilities.

You have argued that they aren't overcharging, since they "invented" the drug(and you aren't against the patent thing either), and as such have every right behind keeping it at a high cost to purchase.

I have argued that by patenting a drug they're thereby robbing others from being able to go to different companies in order to acquire the drug they need, which in turn means that there is a basic monopoly in existence when it pertains to the drugs. On top of that, the overcharging and such for the drugs, not to mention that they'll often give multiple drugs(for dealing with side effects) that also cost a lot of money, and don't always work. This means that people either can't afford the drugs they need to live, or they can afford it but are thereby unable to afford anything even remotely necessary to live a life.
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Old 02-14-04   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLB
Your argument is without merit.

Those drugs would not be in existence without a profit motive.
So people don't attempt to acquire cures to such things as cancer out of something like...sympathy, humanity or even respect?

Quote:
It's not coincidence that the US has most of the best drug companies located here.
Of course we do, they can overcharge for drugs and keep it only to themselves, which means ZERO competition while also nobody is getting any help.

Quote:
What you are advocating would destroy any motive to take any risk to create new drugs, and far more people would die as a result.
Again, I must ask if you can offer up the cost for creation of a drug in comparison to the cost attached to the purchasing of the drug at a store. If you can't, then you can not say it would "destroy any motive" when you're talking about a financial one, since you don't know exactly how much money they're currently making off of their drugs already out there.

Quote:
Try to see past your greed, hatred, and jealousy of those who are successful making a living saving people's lives.
Making a living saving people's lives? Tell that to the people who aren't able to afford drugs that would otherwise save them, or able to handle the costs on drugs as well as bills such as heating and electricity.
But yeah..we'll say they're "saving lives" when it costs tons of money if you're horribly ill, and as such you can't afford it.
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Old 02-14-04   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLB
No, research takes millions of dollars, which must be recouped for investors someday, or your lab gets shut down.
I didn't realize that it took millions...perhaps some nifty old cite for that bit oh info?

Quote:
If they charge too much, then nobody will buy their drug. That's the way capitalism works.
So let me get this straight. In your opinion people who will DIE WITHOUT A CERTAIN DRUG will not buy the drug, even if it costs hundreds of dollars per week?

Quote:
It would be different in every single case. The company also has drugs that fail, so they must spread the cost of failure around to their successes.
Well snap..I actually can't argue with this.

Quote:
Show me all the Physicians out there that go to 12 years of school, and run up over $100k in school loans, and then let me know how many of them are working for free.
I didn't realize we were talking about Physicians(12 years of school? You mean High School AND College, or just College?), instead of the people who have to suffer from the high costs of drugs that they need.
Boy..I thought I was pretty straight forward on that thing too..guess you're just trying to ignore it.
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Old 02-14-04   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLB
No, and I don't care either. They can make it for as cheap as they want, and sell it for as much as they can get. That's the American way.

So your saying greed is just an American quality?

lol

JLB your point is that companies motives are to make money.....
Well, that was my point too.
Personally I would have thought wanting to create miricle drugs, saving lives, and becoming heros would have been huger motives to big pharm companies, but obviously not. Big pharm companies are practically killing millions of people world wide because they refuse to sell their drugs for a reasonable price or even let those poorer countries manufacture the drugs themselves...
You said if big pharms didn't produce these drugs then the world would be worse off. Agreed.
But what you forget is that their drugs are trialed in third world countries who later find they can't afford to buy them...
What kind of reward for helping the drugs be put on the market is that?
Basically i think the ethics of such comapnies trample human rights and put a price on human life...one that not everyone can afford.
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Old 02-14-04   #12
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so I got the idea in a wierd paranoid state that maybe cancer is'nt being cured becuase its too big of a cash cow! i mean it kinda makes sense, why would an industry destroy such a large consumer base. So in the same sense this is one of the biggest flaws in capitalism. No one will really get anything done without the corporations help.
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Old 02-16-04   #13
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According to JLB...
"Greed IS GOOD"...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TomTom
So your saying greed is just an American quality?
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLB
No, but Americans have a more free society, so we end up being the innovators for the rest of the world.
No Greed isn't just an American 'trait', its instinict within parts of humanity...
What JLB is getting at more is: America just perfected "greed", thru its Muiltinationals.

So America 'innovates' greed,... and the rest of the world suffers.
Of course we can't forget, those American's, who suffer due to the greed of others.

Quote:
greed
n.

1) An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth
2) Reprehensible acquisitiveness; insatiable desire for wealth

Refer: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Greed

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLB
No, but Americans have a more free society...
How is it JLB, that if your "greedy", you live in a more "free society" ?
OR, does a "free society" allow you to exploit the less fortunate, for your own personal gain?

((((((Edited Due To Content---- Notice behaviour such as this will not be tolerated within the Political Forum any longer and may lead to a Temp Or Permenent Ban)))))))
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Old 02-20-04   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLB

That is not what being in business is about.
Sorry, my mistake. I credited the people working for multinationals with actually being humans, having feelings, morals, a conscience, a sence of shared responsibility and community.
Like I said, my mistake.

JLB the message your sending out is that it should be each for their own in the race that is life, and despite the fact some people have a head start (like by being born into a country where a particular drug can be afforded) everyone can reach the finishing line if they try hard enough.

Your suggesting that people in third world countries hsould pay what the west pays for their drugs!!!!
EVEN THOUGH THEY DON'T HAVE THE MONEY!!!
Thier incomes are significantly lower than poeples in the west, so how can you expect them to be able to afford such treatment.
You are saying that if they can't afford the drugs then they can't have them, and so are effectively are being denied life.

How do you sleep at night knowing you support such multinationals so some big fat cat can take another holiday and buy a forth car???
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Old 02-20-04   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomtom

Your suggesting that people in third world countries hsould pay what the west pays for their drugs!!!!
EVEN THOUGH THEY DON'T HAVE THE MONEY!!!
Thier incomes are significantly lower than poeples in the west, so how can you expect them to be able to afford such treatment.
You are saying that if they can't afford the drugs then they can't have them, and so are effectively are being denied life.


Didn't he just say this?


Ridiculous. Without the profit incentive there would be no innovation, no new drugs, and millions more people would die. Drug companies also typically price their drugs according to the market they have to sell them in. Hence drugs are more expensive in America than in the third world.
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Old 02-23-04   #16
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Drugs are not relative to the incomes of those in the third world countries thus the cotraversy.......THEY CAN'T AFFORD THE DRUGS THEY NEED! the corporations are powered by greed trying to screw them for every penny they have got, regardless of loss of life.
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Old 02-23-04   #17
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its in the ebst interests of the drug companies NOT to cure everybody, if everyone is healthy who will buy drugs?
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Old 02-23-04   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomtom
Drugs are not relative to the incomes of those in the third world countries thus the cotraversy.......THEY CAN'T AFFORD THE DRUGS THEY NEED! the corporations are powered by greed trying to screw them for every penny they have got, regardless of loss of life.
Is it the drug company's fault that it costs more to produce the drugs than what the third world can afford?
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Old 02-23-04   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawson
Is it the drug company's fault that it costs more to produce the drugs than what the third world can afford?

Firstly, we need to look at the percentages that the pharameutical companies take as their profit margin, and whether that's a high percentage. If it's the profit margins on the drugs which are making them too expensive for the third world, then yes, it is the fault of the drug companies that the third world can't afford them.
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Old 02-23-04   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazaruscorporat
Firstly, we need to look at the percentages that the pharameutical companies take as their profit margin, and whether that's a high percentage. If it's the profit margins on the drugs which are making them too expensive for the third world, then yes, it is the fault of the drug companies that the third world can't afford them.
Why is it any of your business what their profit margin is?

If you think they are too expensive, then you can start your own drug company, and give drugs away until you go broke.
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Last post by Sic Simon
4 Days Ago 00:06
Science Disproves...
11-01-10 15:38
by Pahu
Last post by Pahu
5 Days Ago 10:45
long Sunday
09-24-17 19:00
by DaxterK
Last post by Sic Simon
1 Week Ago 21:20
Ask me a question game
12-13-02 18:13
Last post by Sic Simon
1 Week Ago 21:14
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