Drug CostsOne of the largest culprits in...


Drug Costs

One of the largest culprits in health care cost escalation has to be the pharmaceutical industry. Last year, legislation to hold down drug costs was defeated due to superior lobbying by the drug industry.

It promised faithfully to curb prices and of course did not. They hide costs behind the old research and development screen and buy full page newspaper ads to cover up and proclaim how innocent they are. I wonder how much more our prescriptions will cost to pay for such ads.

Recently, I purchased three prescriptions -- 20 Pepcid pills at a cost of $57.14; 10 Cipro 500mg pills at $33.38 and a tube of Santyl 15 gm at $35.60. How interesting it would be to see the actual costs of these products and just how they were broken down.

What is probably needed is a health care czar to approve such actions and shake up a shaky industry.

Homer Jahnigen

Ellicott City

Arts Center

I could scarcely believe my eyes when I read The Sun's editorial supporting a new $83 million arts center at the University of Maryland College Park.

I certainly believe in government support for the arts and for capital programs that benefit the university. But this is the same Baltimore Sun that vigorously supported the plan submitted to the Regents in December which proposed, among other things, to cut one of the best theater programs in the country and a world-renowned program in ethnomusicology at UMBC in order to save a tiny fraction of the proposed cost of this new arts center.

This is a time when academic programs -- including physical science, humanities and social science departments which would be considered a basic component of a liberal arts $H education on any campus -- are being slashed right and left.

State employees, including university employees, are going into their third year in a row without a pay raise or cost of living adjustments.

We are told that the university must learn to live with a new era of tightened belts, including a narrower vision of the educational mission of each campus that treats all but the flagship campus as a glorified vocational tech institute.

The arts center may be a good idea; but with the very idea of what constitutes a liberal education and a well-rounded program for students being threatened around the state, the timing of the proposal strikes me as ill-conceived at best.

We have been told that the cutting of academic programs is not yet finished; how many more will be eliminated to save the funds needed to pay for this project?

I understand that the governor is motivated by larger political considerations. But your support for the proposal shows a lack of sensitivity to real education priorities.

I hope the legislature has more sense than The Baltimore Sun when it comes time to ask tough questions about those priorities.

Andrew J. Miller


County Snow

I had to laugh out loud reading The Sun editorializing on County Executive Roger B. Hayden's lay-offs and cost-cutting in Baltimore County and his apparent success in raising re-election funds.

Then I read of record complaints to the county about poor or no snow removal. I hope these taxpayers who are so happy with the new lean and fat-free county work force didn't think the snow removal crews were volunteers.

They should pray that a snow-covered road is their most serious experience with service cuts, and that fire or medical emergency compromised by the manning cuts in the Fire Department don't affect them

After all, these things always happen to someone else, don't they?

R. Hausmann


Legislative Insight

I would like to briefly comment on the March 14 article entitled "Some Legislators Playing Favorites on Scholarships."

It is expected but unfortunate that some of our elected officials ignore their constituents in need while stuffing taxpayer dollars into the pockets of friends. But I would like to point out that this is not always the case.

I have a graduate degree in political science and I thought my college days were over. However, after being laid off by Baltimore City government and a subsequent divorce, I found myself unemployed and strained financially.

I wanted to go to nursing school to help myself and the community in which I live. I made an appointment with my representative, Sen. George Della, and I told him my story.

Senator Della had never met me before, and I knew that there were many students that look to their representatives for the "human factor."

I had applied for a nursing scholarship through the Maryland State Scholarship Administration and fund. Despite a 3.75 grade point average, extreme financial need and my commitment to serve a low-income Baltimore community, the administration denied me the scholarship, stating that those with higher grades than mine were awarded the stipend. There was no regard for financial need or the fact that I will be serving a community with critical health needs.

Senator Della did make that consideration and offered me a scholarship. I will be graduating from nursing school next year. When I was leaving his office, I asked the senator if there was anything I could do for him in return. He said only, "Be a good nurse and help our community."

I hope prospective financial aid recipients can find this personal humanistic quality in the State Scholarship Administration as they take control of legislative scholarships in the future.

Stephen H. Geiselman



Dangers of Norplant

In response to Natalie Craig-Vassiliadis' letter ("Norplant Options") of March 10:

Entire nations have fallen because of actions taken in good intention. Though the initial intention of making Norplant available in public schools may be to stem the rise of teen-age pregnancies, the underlying objectives are more subtle and intrinsically subjective than one may imagine.

We must consider that despite many years of well-intentioned actions by health officials and bureaucrats, the teen pregnancy rate has continued to rise.

Despite the availability of information and contraception, abortion is fast becoming the birth preventive of choice among young girls. It is obvious that the availability of birth control does not limit the birth rate among teens.

Add to this the rate of pregnancies among young, African-American, inner-city women and we see that it is not just a generation but an entire population at risk.

Young girls do not become pregnant because of a lack of information. They become pregnant for a lack of sound guidance and parental nurturing.

We as parents have abdicated our responsibility to bring our children into adulthood with the sound judgment and moral strength to make life-sustaining decisions. We have abdicated to schools and social organizations, with disastrous results.

These institutions may teach but they cannot nurture. But for a few dedicated individuals, they cannot provide the careful training a child needs to survive, unscathed, into adulthood. A young girl who is not loved and nurtured at home will search elsewhere, and no form of birth control will prevent her from doing otherwise.

Don't be shocked to discover that young girls are having babies because they want to. They are seeking someone to love who will love them in return, be it a boyfriend or a baby.

It is time to realize that the old way doesn't work anymore. No matter how much information is available, young girls will continue having babies unless someone is willing to stand up and take responsibility for giving them what they need most.

It is time to start telling our youth that their lives are of value to society. It is time to start telling them that what happens to them is important to us, that their bodies and minds are worth preserving.

It is time to give our children a vision and hope for the future and the guidance to get there without subjecting them to the invasion of their bodies with drugs and diseases.

Norplant may keep a few girls from getting pregnant, but it will not stop AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and moral decline. Rather, expect to see an increase in such diseases should Norplant become widely available.

As a woman who gave birth to her first child at 14 and is the mother of teen-age and pre-teen daughters, I can tell you that the alternatives to Norplant are found at home.

Don't think that the most vehement objectors to Norplant have no experience or exposure to the problem.

On the contrary, we are the last generation left behind, and know first-hand the dangers of abdicated responsibility.

Jennifer M. Lang


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