Say what you will about the massive health care legislation President Obama and Democrats pushed through the Capitol last month, but the local biotech industry is quite happy with many parts of it.

As we report:

Local trade group Biocom spent the last year lobbying for tax credits and patent protections that ended up in the legislation. Their success means that small companies can get more research money and local biotechs can develop some drugs without worrying about early competition from generics.

A new tax on medical devices to help pay for the overhaul is less attractive to San Diego biotechs and their estimated 44,000 employees, but it was worth it, they report.

In other news:

  • Are Rich Toscano’s graphs of the local economy turning up across the board? “It’s too early to tell whether a more enduring employment recovery is underway, but for the first time in a while, the data suggests that it’s at least a possibility,” he writes. Judge for yourself.
  • Hawa Fallah has an interesting story. The young student from Guinea used to sell bananas to pay for fees to attend her local school. Now, nine months after her family moved here, she’s in an intense and unique program to try to orient her to American schooling.

    Crawford High is one of five school campuses in San Diego Unified that offer a special program for high school and middle school students who are new to English and to U.S. schools. It has separate, smaller classes meant to ease teens who may have never held a pencil into the rituals of U.S. schooling.

  • I had some quick thoughts on the sheriff’s race. Barring some kind of scandal or unforeseeable issue, whoever wins this race will have a chance to stay in the seat for decades and build incredible political influence. So pay attention.


  • San Diego has known its share of notorious hucksters. Meet the newest member of the club: Sunday evening CBS’ 60 Minutes broadcast its investigation into a man who was selling “21st Century Snake Oil” out of a La Mesa storefront business known as Stowe Biotherapy.

    60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley said the story of Lawrence Stowe, the founder of the facility, is a window into the surging crime of charlatans using the promise of stem cells to convince people with diseases like ALS or Multiple Sclerosis to hand over tens of thousands of dollars for treatments. Stowe worked with colleagues in Mexico to inject stem cells into patients’ bodies, promising them they’d be able to walk away from their wheelchairs. 60 Minutes used undercover cameras and followed one sufferer of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, to Mexico as Stowe tried to sell him on the deal.

    It was a pretty intense story with Pelley at one point confronting Stowe: “You know, Mr. Stowe, the trouble is that you’re a con man.” Stowe nodded his head slightly and responded “really?” And proceeded to sit for what Pelley said was a two-hour interview.

    Some of Stowe’s other treatments were highlighted, without skepticism, in the San Diego Reader here and here in 2008. The weekly helpfully included a number and contact information for the facility. And here’s the Google street view of Stowe’s La Mesa storefront. Let us know if you’ve ever dealt with him.

  • The North County Times says data indicates that Bank of America has just unleashed a slew of foreclosure notices. “Analysts and real estate agents said the moves by the Charlotte, N.C., banking giant, which controls a large share of the Southern California mortgage market, could signal a final reckoning for homeowners who have been protected by government programs for months or even years,” the paper reports.
  • I’ve been waiting for someone to do this: The U-T’s Sandra Dibble ventured to the “landholding group” of Ejido Luis Encina Johnson — the actual epicenter of the Easter earthquake. It’s a small community on the Colorado River Delta in Mexico. Dibble found it abandoned as the 65 families who normally live there are making due in a nearby camp not confident their homes are safe enough to reoccupy.
  • Finally, I have always wanted to do this (U-T).

What, exactly, is the penalty for jumping off the Ocean Beach pier if you’re not in a lifeguard training program?


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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