Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 21, 2004

Canada protects the patent rights of drug makers

James K. Glassman's claim that Canadian prescription drug policies result in Canadians "freeloading" off Americans is bad medicine for Sun readers ("No more free ride," Opinion * Commentary, Jan 11).

Canada does not "use threats to steal the patents of American drug companies in order to negotiate lower prices." Canada does not force drug companies to license their patents to other manufacturers and offers a level of intellectual property protection nearly identical to the one U.S. patent-holders receive.

Drug companies that do not want to sell their pharmaceuticals in Canada are certainly free not to. Overwhelmingly, though, they choose to operate - profitably - in Canada.

Canadian drug prices are not set relative to prices in other wealthy, industrialized nations. In 2002, Canadian prices were 1 percent higher than the median drug prices for industrialized countries.

And since 1988, drug companies have almost always increased drug prices in Canada by less than the maximum allowable level. Last year, drug prices in Canada fell by 1.2 percent even though our price review system allowed for increases of up to 2.3 percent.

So why are Canadian drug prices lower than those in the United States?

Prices are driven by the differences in per capita income that Mr. Glassman cites; exchange rate fluctuations (Canada's currency has appreciated by 20 percent in the past year, narrowing price differences); leverage from bulk purchases on behalf of provincial hospitals; and the absence of some U.S. costs such as direct-to-consumer advertising.

That said, Canada is concerned by reports that Canadian rules on drug safety are being breached. Canada has committed to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine whether there are circumstances in which Canadian or provincial laws, rules and regulations are being violated.

If any violations are found, enforcement action will be taken.

Terry R. Colli

Washington

The writer is director of public affairs for Canada's embassy to the United States.

One land, one peace in the Middle East

As much as I appreciate the tiptoe toward the truth in "Not bombers, not barriers" (editorial, Jan. 15), where was there any mention of real justice?

Where was there any mention of Israel's many violations of international law and the Palestinians' basic human rights? Where was any mention of real democracy with freedom and justice for all?

For years - generations now - Israel has chosen to subsidize and support armed fanatics in the many sprawling and spreading Jewish-only colonies that clutter the illegally occupied territories. These front-line zealots in Israel's cruelly racist war have made a viable Palestinian state impossible.

For the sake of all the children in the holy land and beyond, and of a just and lasting peace, we really should be actively advocating one land, one people, one peace - with full and equal rights for all.

Anne Selden Annab

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Israel needs barrier to protect citizens

Contrary to The Sun's myopic assertion, Israel's security barrier has indeed succeeded in protecting innocent Israelis from Palestinian terrorism ("Not bombers, not barriers," editorial, Jan. 15). The only reason the suicide bomber from Gaza was able to inflict Israeli casualties was because Israel had opened the gate in an effort to make life in Gaza a little more tolerable.

If anything, this bombing reinforces the whole point of the fence - that as long as the Palestinians keep attacking, Israel needs a strong barrier to protect itself.

Glenn Hoge

Ellicott City

Selling out security to reward illegals

As an active member of the Republican Party, I cannot tell you how disgusted I am with Presidents Bush's desire to implement an "illegal alien" amnesty program ("Bush, Fox set aside differences," Jan. 13).

This agenda would reward those who break the law, bog down our border security and jeopardize our safety from terrorism. Such a policy would only encourage more people to sneak into the country, and thus give cover to terrorists.

The only Americans to benefit from such a program would be the rich business owners, who would rather hire an immigrant for $1 an hour than a high school student who is willing to do the same work to save for college. And again the burden would be put on the American taxpayer, who is forced to pay for the education and social services of illegal immigrant families.

I can no longer support a president who claims to fight terrorism and yet sells out his nation for political reasons.

Paul Clark

Bel Air

Why tear down part of city's character?

I'm a student at the University of Baltimore, and I think the university is the best thing since sliced bread. What I don't understand is why the university president wants to raze the Odorite building, ("UB president says Odorite can't be reused," Jan. 15).

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