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Medications aren't one-size-fits-all

August 16, 2004

There are so many inaccuracies in Marcia Angell's responses to your questions ["She Turns Her Pen on Drug Makers," Aug. 9] that it's hard to know where to begin. So let me start with the most impeccable source I can imagine: my mom. My sweet, 85-year-old mother was prescribed a medicine for high blood pressure. It worked, but there were troubling side effects. Fortunately, she was able to switch to another drug, which treated her problems effectively with no noticeable side effects.

In Marcia Angell's world, the second medicine my mother so desperately needed would not have existed because it was not the first of its kind to be invented. Angell believes that one drug to treat a problem is good enough and that developing more than one medicine in a "treatment class" is a waste of precious research and money. That's nonsense.

Like my mom, not everyone reacts to any given medicine the same way. Each person is unique, and diseases are complex. Angell's one-size-fits-all approach is dangerous and fails patients. Physicians and patients need a wide range of medicine choices in their arsenal to protect health and improve lives.

We need to let patients and their doctors -- not government bureaucrats or ivory tower academics -- make choices about the best medicines for each individual patient. All Americans should have access to the best, most innovative medicines we can invent.

Alan F. Holmer

President and chief executive

Pharmaceutical Research

and Manufacturers of America

Washington, D.C.

*

Finally another doctor, Marcia Angell, whose resume is impeccable and whose voice is fair, balanced, factual and apparently not silenced. The doctors ... have been seduced by the siren call of prescribing a quick ... simplistic pill solution to most everything, pushed along by the perks and gratuities of the pharmaceutical giants.

Donald A. Sellek

Manhattan Beach

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