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Ethics of direct-to-customer prescription drug advertising

Your June 16 editorial, "Parading ailments to sell pills," unfortunately, overlooks the educational benefits of direct-to- consumer advertising of prescription medicines. Questioning the legitimacy of certain conditions and the medicines developed to fight them does not advance quality healthcare. There is real value in advertising prescription medicines to consumers. A recent nationwide poll by Prevention Magazine and Men's Health found that 28 million patients talked to their doctors for the first time about a health condition after seeing ads for prescription medicines, and that such visits often resulted in a new, previously undetected diagnosis. Unquestionably, this kind of early detection can save lives.

America's pharmaceutical research companies take seriously their responsibility to patients. That is why nearly one year ago PhRMA established Guiding Principles on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medicines; many of these guidelines go above and beyond current legal and regulatory requirements.
Ken Johnson
Washington Senior vice president, PhRMA

Thank you for your June 16 editorial. I have long been outraged at the increasing proliferation of prescription drug commercials these past years. Only physicians should be provided pharmaceutical information from the companies making them. Such proliferation of these ads is an unconscionable attempt by the drug companies to gain even more profit from the sale of their drugs. I am a US citizen residing in Canada, and I weep for my country.

Please keep applying the pressure, as a free press is one of the few weapons ordinary citizens have to fight such problems.
Betty Reubart
Langley, British Columbia

Outsourcing creates mutual frustration

Regarding Jane Galvin's June 23 Opinion piece, "Inside an Indian call center: the big disconnect": I recently experienced the twin frustrations of a computer problem and having to call an Indian call center for help.

I am all for an educated work force getting good jobs, and I am not exactly confident in American call center agents' ability to help me resolve computer problems, but the frustration of waiting, delayed telephone relays, and then having to fight through strong accents is even more frustrating.

Call center outsourcing may save companies millions each year, but it is very painful to consumers who are already undergoing a great deal of stress as they try to resolve computer problems.

I think the computer industry, which has already soaked consumers for vast amounts of money, can do better.
Matthew Jude Egan
Coarsegold, Calif.

A voice for restraint in Iraq

Regarding your June 26 editorial, "How to end beheadings in Iraq": You say what Iraq needs is an Ida Wells-Barnett. Shouldn't you instead be saying how lucky Iraq has been having had the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani?

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Had we paid the man a little more respect and listened to him when he gave reasoned advice, that country would be in a whole different situation today.

Today in Iraq, Mr. Sistani is somewhat discredited for preaching patience with the Americans. I don't know if he could be the powerful voice for restraint he once was. He might not totally fit your bill, but our leaders haven't acted like Ida Wells-Barnett, either.
John Stettler

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website,

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.

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