Friday, September 6, 2002
1. HERBAL NONSENSE: DON'T MESS AROUND WITH MOTHER NATURE.
Even as many of the most popular herbal medications failed miserably when
subjected to actual tests (WN 23 Aug 02),
one concoction of saw palmetto, said to include seven Chinese and Indian
herbs, seemed to be just as effective in treating prostate cancer as the
latest prescription drugs. This was not as remarkable as it seemed: as
a natural dietary supplement, PC-SPES could be sold over the counter without
proof of purity or effectiveness (WN 16 Aug
02). But the FDA contended PC-SPES contained prescription- only drugs,
and pulled it off the market. It is now confirmed by independent laboratories
that PC-SPES contained warfarin, a blood thinner, indomethacin, an analgesic,
and synthetic estrogen. These are prescription-only drugs not found in
2. PATENT NONSENSE: COURT DENIES BLACKLIGHT POWER APPEAL.
The status of BlackLight Power's intellectual property is fuzzier than
ever. BLP was awarded Patent 6,024,935 for "Lower-Energy Hydrogen Methods
and Structures," a process for getting hydrogen atoms into a "state below
the ground state" (WN 18 Feb 00).
You might expect these shrunken hydrogen atoms, called "hydrinos," to
have a pretty special chemistry. Do they ever! Indeed, a second patent
application titled "Hydride Compounds" had been assigned a number and
BLP had paid the fee. Several other patents were in the works. That's
when things started heading South. Prompted by an outside inquiry (who
would do such a thing?), the patent director became concerned that this
hydrino stuff required the orbital electron to behave "contrary to the
known laws of physics and chemistry." The Hydride Compounds application
was withdrawn for further review and the other patent applications were
rejected. Since the one patent already issued involves the same violations
of basic laws of physics, there is a cloud over its status as well. BLP
filed suit in federal court arguing that it was too late for the Patent
Office to change its mind. The court was not impressed, so BLP appealed
the decision. In denying the appeal, the court said the Patent Office
has a responsibility to take "extraordinary action" to withdraw a questionable
patent. The long-awaited IPO may have to wait a little longer.
3. LANCE BASS: MAYBE THE RUSSIANS JUST DON'T LIKE MUSIC.
Russian space officials say the boy-band star stiffed them on the $20M
fare to the ISS, so they evicted him from Star City and gave his seat
on Soyuz to a box of supplies. But MirCorp still needs the dollars, and
deals are still being discussed. One is said to involve a major soft drink
company. Pepsi and Coke have fought it out in space for years. Mir cosmonauts
inflated a giant Pepsi can on a space walk (WN
5 Nov 99), while Coke was involved in developing a $3M micro-gravity
Coke machine that gave only foam when it was tested before a world-wide
audience on television.