The Baltimore Sun

Rental property law protects communities

Councilman T. Bryan McIntire's opposition to the new Baltimore County rental law is well-intentioned but unfounded ("Most Balto. Co. rental properties conform to new law," Feb. 8).

Towson University fails to provide housing for about 30 percent of its students. And the surrounding communities suffer as a result of its campus housing shortage.

Don Gerding, the chairman of the Rodgers Forge External Affairs Committee, and I have frequently reported problems with rental housing in the area to housing code enforcement authorities and county police. But often the officers who responded had little or no authority to take action.

Mr. McIntire believes there is not enough staff to enforce the housing law. However, officers have always responded to my calls. In the past, unfortunately, they were often powerless to act on such complaints.

Knowing that the existing housing code was inadequate, Mr. Gerding and others from communities around the county encouraged and helped Councilman Vincent J. Gardina craft the new rental licensing bill.

And, today, thanks to the rental registration law, every county community has more authority to stop residential rental code violations.

Karl Pfrommer, Baltimore

The writer is a member of Towson Area Citizens on Patrol.

Off-label drug use puts patients at risk

The Baltimore Sun's article "Bush, FDA changed rules to benefit off-label drugs" (Feb. 1) discussed rule changes approved by former President George W. Bush that will benefit drug manufactures by making it easier for them to promote "off-label" uses for prescription drugs.

The use of drugs for purposes that have not been tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration has long been a practice of doctors and drug companies.

But the studies that support the use of those drugs for purposes other than the ones for which they were approved by the FDA are usually sponsored by the very same drug company that will benefit from the additional profits generated by those uses of the drug. This poses an obvious conflict of interest.

I don't understand why the drug company can't go through the FDA approval process for these additional uses.

At the very least, the patient should be informed that the drug he or she is being prescribed has not been tested and approved by the FDA for that purpose and of the additional risks associated with this additional use.

Henry L. Belsky, Baltimore

The writer is a plaintiff's attorney who is conducting a lawsuit over off-label pharmaceutical use.

Aiding private colleges does little for taxpayers

The letter challenging state aid to private colleges and universities should be required reading for every senator and delegate in the Maryland legislature ("Stop state funding for private colleges," Feb. 7).

Very few states put private schools in their budgets because the states get virtually nothing in return. Tuition at private colleges and universities is no lower for Maryland citizens as a result of that spending, nor are admission standards lower - in fact, in the name of geographical diversity, most private schools set the bar higher for Maryland applicants.

The Johns Hopkins University, in particular, with one of the richest endowments in the world, should be ashamed to take its annual eight-figure handout from Maryland taxpayers.

Stopping this practice is long overdue, and legislators who fail to see the need have no business calling themselves budgetary watchdogs.

George Friedman, Towson

The writer is a professor emeritus at Towson University.

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