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The Only Cure for Drugmakers' Ills Is Innovation

High drug prices have a lot more to do with the way health care is financed in the U.S. than with the role of the Food & Drug Administration ("Get the FDA out of the way, and drug prices will drop," Economic Viewpoint, Sept. 16). Over the past 10 years, we have seen very few new therapeutic options for the major chronic diseases, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The close-to-$800-million price tag for clinical trials [is the cost of demonstrating] that a "me-too" drug is slightly better than its predecessor.

Pharmaceutical companies are moving research and development to the U.S. because of its academic-industrial complex and entrepreneurial culture. If other regions could offer such a depth of scientific resources and support from generous public institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, the pharmaceutical industry would do its R&D offshore and simply import its products to lucrative markets such as the U.S.

Leonard Lerer


Fontainebleau, France Re: "A whiff of hope" (Asian Business, Sept. 23): I would like to ask Indian intellectuals and saner elements there what India has achieved by positioning almost a million troops in a threatening posture on the borders of Pakistan? Did it help the Bharatiya Janata Party win elections in Uttar Pardesh or elsewhere? Has cross-border terrorism, as they call it, ceased in Kashmir? Has Pakistan yielded any concessions to India? Has it helped India promote its case for fighting terrorism? Has it done any good to India, causing colossal military expenditures and denying Air India routes over Pakistan?

The fallout of this senseless act has hurt India's economy and its place in world opinion. Pakistan, on the other hand, has played its cards admirably and has cashed in on Indian belligerence to maximum advantage.

It is time that India's leadership realized its folly and came to the negotiating table for talks with Pakistan.

Colonel Riaz Jafri (Retired)

Rawalpindi, Pakistan Contrary to "Why Jordan is terrified of a U.S. attack on Iraq" (International Outlook, Sept. 23), Jordan has been through this before and survived. We have had massive inflows of refugees in 1948, 1967, and in 1990-91. Since the Persian Gulf War, Jordan has adapted and integrated itself into the new world economy and is a member of the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement.

Even though a war would cause problems and delays to Jordan's economic growth, Jordan's populace and leadership would survive. Your writers, based in Washington and Jerusalem, say that Jordan "could become a de facto Palestinian state." Don't worry--this won't come true.

Kim Faud Abujaber

Amman, Jordan

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