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Healthy Discussion

Pharmaceuticals, India, media, Homeland Security, and racing for home.

6.12.02

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ONE'S MEDICINE
Re: Lawrence Henry's Drugs and Me -- and You:

Loved this article. Thank you.
-- Sherri Goodman
Arizona

I agree with your article. I, too, have a kidney transplant -- 30 years. I was 27 years old and I agree without our drug companies I would not be here. In fact, I argued this fact to an economist (Ph.D.) last week who felt (after seeing Peter Jennings) that all the research should be nationalized! Luckily I had just taken my blood pressure pills prior to this comment!

Last April my kidney started to fail; I was switched to Cellcept and am on a low protein diet (50-60 grams a day, usually around 50). So far things are a lot better for me.

Enjoyed your article,
-- Margaret Young
Cincinnati, OH

Perhaps Robert Torricelli does want Lawrence Henry dead. It wouldn't surprise me -- Torricelli seems like that kind of guy, you know? However, Douglas Forrester only wants Lawrence alive until the moment he can no longer afford his drugs.

While it's true that drugs companies do manufacture miraculous medicines to keep patients like Lawrence Henry alive, they also do things like manufacture slightly altered versions of drugs to circumvent patent laws. This keeps the miraculous drugs expensive far longer than should be the case (or would be the case in the free market). In addition, they inflate prices to reclaim billions of dollars in marketing costs (in many cases to push new drugs that don't work as well as older, cheaper ones), then cry "R&D" whenever anyone questions it. And this is before their deals with insurance companies and the consumer's ignorance about drug prices screw things up further.

Drug companies claim that if they're not allowed to reap tremendous, unchecked profit margins, then maybe the next time Lawrence Henry needs a kidney they might not make that new drug he needs. This is a "we'll-take-our-ball-and-go-home" argument that demands gratitude for being held over a barrel. If a man saves your life and takes everything you own in the process, you should be grateful. But if he only needed half your stuff to cover his R&D, pay the stockholders a nice dividend, and send his kid to a private college ... and he still took everything ... well, then you'd be [angry]. And you'd be right.
-- Matthew Meltzer
Los Angeles, CA

Lawrence Henry replies: Well, allowing that Mr. Meltzer's "argument" is scarcely coherent, what does "Robert Torricelli," as synecdoche for the Democratic Party, propose to do instead? All the supposed horrors Mr. Meltzer cites in drug pricing can be traced to regulation and price controls. Our own medical universe is full of them. More important, many foreign countries compel our drug companies essentially to sell at a loss.

UNDER WESTERN EYES:
Re: George Neumayr's Churchill and India:

My friend George Neumayr seems to accept the media's doomsday assumption that India and Pakistan will nuke it out. He also accepts the assumption that India has been de-westernized, claiming that "No one who knows India today" can dispute Churchill's wisdom, etc. I never dispute Churchill's wisdom, but I also know that wisdom expressed in the 1930s, however much we romanticize it, does not necessarily apply to today. India's done so much westernizing lately that many conservative foreign policy mavens consider playing the India card against China. As for the doomsday scenario, it seems already to be de-escalating; pray that it continues. George seldom believes the media, but he may have swallowed this time.
-- K. E. Grubbs Jr.

NOT MY DEPARTMENT
Having read Jed Babbin's column "Homeland Security Circus," I think it might be interesting to think back to Mrs. Thatcher in the days of her glory when it was suggested to her to create a new department.

It was reported that she "chewed on" the proposer by saying "I told you to deal with the problem, not to make it worse. Once we have an entire government department whose size, pay, and perquisites depend upon the existence of the problem, we'll never get rid of it."

If the bigger government personages of a Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt are "hell bent for leather" in forming G.W.'s department, something has got to be wrong.
-- Ken Wyman
Huntsville, AL

Jed Babbin replies: It's against my religion to disagree with Lady Thatcher, but I think the thought doesn't fit our situation. We're in a new situation, and our government in its current form is clearly incapable of dealing with this threat. We need to keep our eye on this new agency to make sure it doesn't grow like kudzu (and its acronym is a bad omen. DOHs sounds like something out of Homer Simpson).

But this is a new kind of war -- one that comes to the front door of every American home -- and we need to have new tools to deal with it. We need to bring border security into the new environment. Sorry, but this is one agency even conservatives should welcome.

MIXED UP MEDIA
Re: George Neumayr's Scornful Scribes:

Your commentary concerning the media's treatment of the church's problem needed to be said. It's a wonder they don't end their commentary with a "smiley face" stamp.

For this Roman Catholic, as distinguished from an American Catholic, the liberalization of the Roman Catholic Church that resulted from the debacle of "Vatican II" is not only bearing its current poisonous fruit but is also emboldening a liberal attack on the celibacy of the priesthood. The church's position vis-à-vis homosexuality will grow exponentially.

In summary, those concerned over the violation of our children must not let the aforementioned revisionists "muddy the waters" with their pernicious peeves.
-- Kenneth E. Wyman
Huntsville, AL

Having just read Andrew Sullivan's article in Time, "Who Says the Church Can't Change," which you cited, I find it difficult to believe that he is a Ph.D from an Ivy League School or an educated Catholic. He is mixing too many issues together: theological, administrative, and tradition. This cannot be done. He also seems to dismiss the biblical basis on which the sexual ethics and morality of the Church, through her magisterium, are based.

He needs a refresher course in theology.
-- Bill Guentner

HORSING AROUND
Re: Editorial note On This Good Turf:

War Emblem's jockey was lucky not to have been thrown. But at the end of the backstretch this very nice horse was on the rail and in good position -- and had nothing left! The subject is an excellent segue to the greatest Belmont ever. In June of 1973, Secretariat's groom, Eddie Sweat, led the big horse out of his Belmont shed for an early walk. Oh, about, thirty feet away a water bucket was inadvertently knocked over by a pony girl. Secretariat, at once, was up on his hind legs, pawing at the sky and walking in circles. He was raring to go off, the rest is histoire! Never was a horse so fit, he burst out of the gate at Belmont and sprinted the one and one-half mile in 2:24 flat. One can still hear the announcer as Secretariat roared down the backstretch, "And secretariat is moving like a tremendous machine." He came home all alone, hand ridden, with any competition more than a sixteenth of a mile away. The best description of "Big Red" is by his biographer, William Nack. In speaking of the horse in human terms, he described, think of the greatest athlete in the world, oh, about six foot three, intelligent, kind and the best looking guy to ever come down the turnpike.
-- Edward Del Colle

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