SEPTA Sues Drug Maker Over $1,000-a-Pill Hep C Drug

SEPTA has sued the drugmaker Gilead over the price of its Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, which costs about $1,000 a pill — or $84,000 for a standard treatment.

The lawsuit says the 12-week treatment costs only $900 in Egypt. Gilead also recently cut a deal to sell generic Sovaldi, sofosbuvir, in 91 developing countries. The lawsuit says the Federal Bureau of Prisons also receives massive discounts on the Hep C drug. Gilead has made $5.7 billion selling Sovaldi this year already, about half its revenue.

SEPTA is seeking a judgment that Gilead has engaged in price discrimination, as well as monetary restitution. The transit agency is suing because it is a “third party payor” of its employees’ health care costs; SEPTA has paid $2.4 million for Sovaldi since the drug came out.
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MAP: This Is What Philly Would Look Like With Full 24-Hour SEPTA Service

Owl Service Map

We gave SEPTA some suggestions for all-night bus routes. They showed us what that might look like.

If you read my first commentary on all-night SEPTA subway service — in which I asked if SEPTA might better spend its money providing 24-hour bus service to all corners of the city — you may be surprised to hear that I was quite pleased when the agency decided to make its experiment with all-night rapid transit on weekends permanent.

And it’s not just because it means I can now take a train rather than a bus home on those occasional weekend nights that I stay out way late. Rather, it’s because it shows the agency responded to its riders. A bunch of them recommended this change, SEPTA tried it, and the riders responded enthusiastically.

And the agency is providing this service, which is carrying anywhere from 66 to 100 percent more riders than took the Nite Owl buses, for a mere $34,000 more per weekend than it spent on the buses.

That’s $1.768 million for a year’s worth of overnight subway-elevated service on the weekends.

But.

There’s still this nagging feeling in the back of my head that this $1.8 million or so would still be better spent providing overnight service to parts of the city that don’t have any — or are too far from the nearest — 24-hour bus line.

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SEPTA Loses Round in Anti-Islam Bus Ad Battle

anti-muslim-bus-ad-suit-septa

SEPTA has lost an early round in its battle to keep an anti-Islam advertisement off of its buses. A federal judge last week ruled the agency cannot present testimony that the ad is false — saying the First Amendment protects political speech even when it’s incorrect.

“Long standing Supreme Court precedent instructs that political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because the listener believes that it is false or disagrees with the message it advances,” Judge Mitchell Goldberg wrote in his ruling. (See the full ruling below.)
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After Delays, Broad Street Line Resumes Service

Photo | Ben Schumin.

Photo | Ben Schumin.

SEPTA’s not having an easy day. Northbound trains on the Broad Street Line were halted temporarily this morning due to an equipment problem at Snyder Station, disrupting rush-hour commuters trying to get to work. Southbound trains were being stopped at Lombard Street station, with shuttle service provided for stops south of there.

Just after 9:30 a.m., SEPTA announced that service had resumed, but warned riders to expect residual delays.

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Union Says SEPTA Train Engineers Overworked

Septa regional rail train

The union representing SEPTA’s rail engineers has asked the Federal Railroad Administration to reject the agency’s waiver from safety rules, saying engineers are overworked and fatigued.

NBC 10 reports:

With one of the busiest travel days of the year on the horizon, SEPTA Union leaders are warning that some engineers are working too many hours, putting riders in danger. SEPTA officials believe the warning is unnecessary however.

“The locomotive engineers are working 14 hour days, six days a week,” said Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) vice president Steve Bruno. “It’s something of an unsafe condition and frankly it’s becoming dangerous.”

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Cops: Mayfair Tire Slasher David Toledo Slashed More Tires

David Toledo, a convicted tire slasher

When David Toledo was convicted of 15 charges related to a string of tire slashings in Mayfair, his lawyer had a novel defense: He was merely a Mayfair tire slasher, not the Mayfair Tire Slasher.

“The jury, by its verdict, seems to have found that he damaged some tires,” his lawyer said, “but to call David Toledo the ‘Mayfair Tire Slasher’ now would be unfair.” Toledo got probation for his crimes. Now police say Toledo is at it again.

Police say a SEPTA driver was sitting in his car on the 1600 block of Creston Street when he spotted Toledo near the tire of his vehicle. The driver investigated and found a glue mousetrap with nails attached to the glue side.

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Man Killed by SEPTA Train

Bad news:

A man is dead after a SEPTA train filled with passengers struck him Tuesday morning while he stood along tracks in Bucks County.

The train, heading to Center City from Trenton, struck the man around 9:15 a.m. about two miles east of the Croydon station, officials said.

Two of four Center City-bound tracks have been closed while the incident is investigated. Amtrak is running on the other two tracks, at restricted speed. [NBC10]

Can You Run Faster Than a SEPTA Bus? Find Out Tomorrow

septa run

This is one of those ideas that’s so good, I wish I’d thought of it. Tomorrow night, the West Philly Runners will find out if they can outrun a SEPTA bus as they follow (lead?) the 21 bus across the city for their Beat the Bus Run.

“We all know that running is good exercise, but we believe it can also be a faster way to get across town and we’re out to prove,” says a message on the run’s Facebook page. We can dig it, especially since, you know, that’s kind of what our whole Run to Work Day thing was about, too.

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Hell Is Other People on the SEPTA QuietRide Car

Illustration by Hawk Krall

Illustration by Hawk Krall

“I wish you were going to Vegas,” says the girl in the bright orange tank top. There’s something both infuriating and admirable about her tone. The way her declarative statements bend upward in pitch, as if she’s asking a question, reminds me of Valley Girls in the ’80s, and Paris Hilton. But this hot mess clearly doesn’t care what anyone around her thinks. If she were on a reality TV show, I’d say good for you — be yourself, screw the haters. But we’re on a SEPTA train bound for the ’burbs sometime around 6 p.m., and just seconds ago, the conductor made an announcement that we’re sitting in what’s known as the QuietRide car. Even if you’re not a regional-rail regular, you can probably figure out what that’s supposed to mean. Orange Tank Top and her male companion — who, in clear violation of some hipster-slacker ethos, is rocking both a backpack and a messenger bag — drone on, oblivious to both the friendly reminder and to the fact that no one in the entire car is talking except for them.
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