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Disease Becomes a Marketing Opportunity

December 27, 2004

Re "The National Institutes of Health: Public Servant or Private Marketer?" Dec. 22: I am appalled that researchers who speak for the NIH and have the ability to influence what doctors are prescribing for their patients are being paid as consultants by drug companies. I have taken a number of statins, including Crestor, and I am aware of the guidelines issued in 2001 by the National Cholesterol Education Program that recommended new target levels for cholesterol. Now I am wondering how seriously I should regard the advice of the NIH.

Carol Karas

Camarillo

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There is no credibility at the NIH. If major scientists are promoting a particular drug or treatment and they are accepting consulting fees from that company, how can you believe anything they are saying about that product? In any other society what they are doing would be called corruption. Taking a bribe, if you will. I no longer have any confidence in what they have to say.

Rodney G. Stinnett MD

Highlands, N.C.

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It's not just that the cholesterol guidelines were created by those with a vested interest in selling statin drugs or that industry reps use psychological blackmail to induce doctors to prescribe statins. It is also that malpractice insurers punish doctors who do not prescribe statins and health insurers reward doctors by reimbursing for statin therapy. Most continuing education for physicians is sponsored by drug companies and is calculated to turn doctors into the dispensing arm of the pharmaceutical industry.

President Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex. Today, we have much to fear from the pharmaceutical-medical-health insurance complex, which views disease as a marketing opportunity.

Charles Berezin

Los Angeles

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In view of the recent articles concerning drugs and the FDA/NIH and their safety, there is still one thing that patients can do. They can refuse to take any drug that has not been on the market for at least five years unless it is a real blockbuster drug.

Harry Norkin

Thousand Oaks

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