Is Murphy a role model for mothers?There...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Is Murphy a role model for mothers?

There are in-depth questions regarding Murphy Brown being a role model as you discussed in your editorial of May 19.

Will Murphy in single parenthood be an inspiration to unwed mothers to control their own lives and build self-esteem?

Will Murphy in her new role of raising a child alone be a role model for working moms whether wed, unwed, divorced, widowed, separated or never wed?

These are tough ones to answer. In a one-half hour sitcom for TV the ending is always happy. The good always defeats the bad. It seems that we have a tale of unrealistic happenings. Of course, for entertainment this is how it should be.

Life is not entertainment.

Can/will Murphy admit to the guilt feelings of leaving her child while she goes to work?

Can/will Murphy be allowed to bring her child to the work place? This may be a dream for many working mothers but does a child belong in a work place? Is the situation fair to the management and to the child? This would also mean that Mom is now holding down two jobs at work.

There has been much written about supermom. Let's get the facts straight: stress, high blood pressure, heart attacks, ulcers. Mom moved into the workforce and negative factors developed fast.

Some of the negative facts are the physical ailments that have begun to enter into a woman's world. Let us not forget the guilt feelings: the guilt of never enough time with children. I recently read advice to give a child at least 10 minutes quality time -- ten minutes of privacy. What does the child or parent get out of this? Nothing. This is barely enough time for a hug and kiss: certainly not enough time for communication to be of real value.

Delinquency, drug and alcohol addiction have all grown by leaps and bounds since women have entered the work force in large numbers.

I doubt Murphy Brown is the role model for single motherhood.

There is time for togetherness. There is time for communication. Instead of television, try a quiet time together. Learn to interact, learn to listen and have fun together. Work on strengthening the loving and caring for each other.

Congratulations to Murphy, but she is not the "norm."

Congratulations to all moms who do their best (whatever it may be) every day minute by minute.

Teresa Marcus

Baltimore

What about guns?

It was very disappointing that the only connection Vice-President Quayle could find between television and violence in our society was Murphy Brown's baby.

What about the glorification of guns and killing which occurs on so many prime time and "children's" programs? What about TV ads which encourage kids to buy guns and make believe they are killing each other?

Wouldn't these images be more likely to foster violent attitudes in children and teens than the image of an independent woman bearing a child on her own? If Mr. Quayle really wants to take on Hollywood, he should take it on where it counts: on its glorification of the gun.

Vincent DeMarco

Baltimore

Keep kids in school

It seems to me there needs to be more incentive to stay in schools, which will promote better education and possibly decrease the number of teens getting pregnant. Getting a better education may provide an "out" for these teens who feel they are stuck in inner-city locations like those near my home.

Money could be shifted from the gifted and talented programs to the programs that may assist children who have less of a chance of bettering themselves. Also revenues that are raised through taxing cigarettes and alcohol could be put toward better education.

Hopefully, with the increase in education, street use of drugs and alcohol would fall, as well as the teen pregnancy rate. With this result, taxpayers could plan on spending less money on rehabilitation for addicts as well as fewer dollars for children and families on welfare.

We need to look at the education children are getting now because this is where our future is.

Kristen Smulsky

Baltimore

Get involved

Nothing will improve the educational system and a youngster's success in school as much as parental involvement.

Parents should be aware that nothing will help their children more than an active interest in all phases of their children's academic endeavors. American education cannot improve if parents do not play a major role.

Unfortunately, many parents are not actively involved in their children's education. This must change if indeed American education is to improve.

John A. Micklos

Baltimore

Save the Orphan Drug Act

If you or a family member don't suffer from an incurable rare disease, tinkering with the Orphan Drug Act of 1983 may seem like a good idea. But to those of us who witness the pain and anguish of these diseases first hand, changing this hope-giving law poses terrible and unacceptable risks.

Cystic Fibrosis has affected our family both physically and mentally. Our son Matthew, who is four months old, suffers from this terrible fatal disease. Enzymes have to be given to our son before every meal.

These enzymes have made a difference for my son. They have helped him put on a considerable amount of weight that is needed for his survival. The drugs are also expensive, costing over $2 a day.

Many new drugs and therapies are now being tested. Some of them, like DNase, have been proven effective. We need to make sure that these drugs are made available to everyone who is in need of them.

There have been incredible advancements in the last few years (since the cystic fibrosis gene was discovered) and we are extremely optimistic about the future for our son, but research must continue and the Orphan Drug Act cannot be weakened now. We are entering what we hope will be the final stages to conquer this disease.

Congress passed the Orphan Drug Act in 1983 to provide incentive for drug companies to develop drugs for orphan diseases, these afflicting fewer than 200,000 people each. The reasoning was that, since it can cost hundreds of millions to research and develop a new drug, it just did not pay to develop drugs with very limited markets.

This was especially true for biotechnology breakthroughs and other products which are not otherwise eligible for the regular 17-year patent protection available to most new drug discoveries. The most important feature of the law is a seven-year period of exclusive marketing rights, which acts like a patent for these medicines.

In the nine years since this law has been in effect, 64 orphan drugs have been developed to treat 74 rare diseases, including hemophilia, leprosy, sleeping sickness and severe combined immunodeficiency disease -- the "bubble boy" disease. Despite this progress, there are still some 10 to 20 million Americans who suffer from the 5,000 rare diseases for which there is no effective treatment.

Those of us who suffer from these diseases, or have close relatives who do, do not want the wheels of progress to stop before it's our turn. But now, misguided legislative efforts threaten to cripple this provision.

Under a proposed amendment in the Senate, orphan drugs would lose their patent-like exclusivity once sales reach an arbitrary "sales cap" of $200 million.

People promoting this change say it will make orphan drugs more affordable. But there is no proof of that at all. In fact, logic suggests that because of the limited market size of orphan disease populations, drug costs will increase because manufacturers will have smaller, more fragmented markets from which to recover their investments after losing exclusivity because of the sales cap.

Everyone wants affordable drugs. But if the drugs are never discovered, the question of cost is academic. And most major drug companies have pledged -- in writing -- to provide orphan drugs free to patients who are uninsured or who cannot otherwise pay for the medicine they need.

Dr. David Kessler, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told a Senate committee that changes to the Orphan Drug Act "would discourage future orphan product development, ultimately denying needed therapies to people suffering from rare disease and conditions." Indeed, this threat is so great to the future of orphan drug development that health and human services secretary Louis Sullivan has stated that he would recommend a veto of the bill to President Bush.

Lisa J. Hamburger

Owings Mills

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