WOMEN'S HEALTH -- Thirty-seven female House members urged President Clinton yesterday to improve the women's health benefits in his health care reform plan.

In a letter to the president, the members of the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues said the plan should be modified to provide more comprehensive coverage for mammograms, pap smears and pelvic examinations. The caucus also reiterated its support for the White House decision to include abortion coverage in the plan's basic benefits package.

RESEARCH SPENDING -- Spending on health care research wil rise despite the drive to cut costs in the White House health plan, health care architect Hillary Rodham Clinton told a group of distinguished medical researchers yesterday in New York.

The first lady spoke to about 200 invited guests at a lunch to honor winners of the Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards. "We know that medical research and high-quality health care go hand in hand," she said.

DRUG PRICES -- If the drug industry puts a ceiling on pric increases for most of the pharmaceuticals sold in the United States, the Justice Department will challenge it on antitrust grounds, officials warned yesterday.

Although the proposal by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association was intended to control spiraling costs of drugs, Assistant Attorney General Anne K. Bingaman, who oversees antitrust matters, said the ends don't justify the means: "Agreement on prices among competitors is clearly illegal."

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