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Drug Cost Issues Hide a Multitude of Sins

June 22, 2002

Re "No Panacea, but a Start," editorial, June 17: The simplistic approach reflected in the prescription-drug bills mentioned, and by most medical insurance programs, is that those who refuse to take generic drugs do so deliberately and therefore should be made to bear a cost many times greater.

My wife's experience, and that of many others, should be given consideration. She is required to take many medications to control a variety of afflictions, and her body is sufficiently sensitive that on occasion it rejects the different chemical base that is often used by pharmaceutical companies that offer generics. In one instance she almost died because of such an immune-system reaction to a very common drug.

I would suggest that punishing those who have such sensitivities is itself insensitive to their very real needs. What then can be done to control the greater costs of nongenerics? Perhaps requiring rejection of a generic to be based on a physician's approval, but covering the additional cost under such circumstances.

That isn't a perfect solution, but it's better than what is proposed in these bills and seems to be common practice in the medical marketplace.

George F. Weinwurm

Woodland Hills

*

In a June 17 front-page article on the relaxation of sexual repression in Egypt, you report the likely lifting of the ban on Viagra in that country. Mention is made that it is anticipated this move will halve the current black market price of the drug, $10 a tablet. The current retail price of this medication in the U.S. is about $10 for a 100-milligram pill. Viagra is not the only widely advertised medication sold at a significant premium in this country when compared with the price in other countries.

When considering the ever-growing cost of medication in our country, our legislators should look to the role of far-reaching advertising in driving up our pharmaceutical bills. Unfortunately, the subsidy many of our representatives seek to preserve is the one they receive from the industry's lobbyists.

Richard P. Fox MD

Past President, American

Psychoanalytic Assn.

Dana Point

*

Times editors must have stayed up all night coming up with the headline on the availability of Viagra in Egypt, "Arousing Debate in Egypt," and the sub-headline, "A move to lift the ban on Viagra is stimulating discussion of difficult subjects...."

What makes it revolting is the slant of the article: the performance worries of Egyptian men on their wedding nights, with the throwaway description of "genital excision," also known here as "female circumcision." Well, it's also known as genital mutilation, but The Times fails to mention that, or exactly what this barbaric procedure is all about.

Rather, your story offers the single sentence, a quote from one physician in his 20s, who says that "excision, while catastrophic for women, puts added pressure on already performance-conscious men."

Great. They wouldn't have to worry about satisfying their women if they didn't cut out their God-given sexual organs in the first place in an effort to keep women "pure."

Katherine Kelly

Redondo Beach

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