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Blue pills, red pills, bitter pills

August 11, 2009

Re "Healthcare reform that's hard to swallow," Opinion, Aug. 5

Most individuals, including authors Henry I. Miller and Jeff Stier, concerned about the potential inability of pharmaceutical companies to fund drug research should healthcare reform occur conveniently forget the amount of research and development funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and other government and private agencies.

Once a drug is developed and marketed, all of the profits go to the drug company. Also, let us not forget that pharmaceutical companies spend a lot of money marketing their products to healthcare providers and the public.

Also, virtually all insurers and some hospitals already distinguish "blue pills from red ones," using published formularies that clearly ration drugs to their clients. These programs are not likely to "delicately balance effectiveness and acceptable side effects in each patient" as well as they balance the bottom line.

Stephen H. Miller MD

Murrieta

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You can't call the president's healthcare reform initiative "Obama-care" -- as Miller and Stier do -- and then pretend you're really serious about healthcare. Medicare is a government program, and there is no interference with medications that are prescribed by your doctor. There are no "cheap blue pills" prescribed if you need the "expensive red pill," as the writers put it.

This is just another attack by right-wingers who don't want to move into the 21st century.

Stanley Gordon

Canoga Park

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Miller and Stier paint a grim picture of the "government" deciding which medications patients will take.

Evidently, they have not been involved in patient care for years. For the last decade, it has been the insurance companies making these decisions, based on maximizing shareholder value.

Patrick A. Mauer MD

Los Angeles

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